Last week the SynerScope team attended the Dataworks Summit in Munich: “the industry’s premier big data community event”. It was a successful and well-attended event. Attendees were passionate about big data and its applicability to different industries. The more technical people learned (or in the case of our CTO and CEO: demonstrated) how to get most value quickly out of data lakes. Business folks were more interested in sessions and demonstrations on how to get actionable insights out of big data, use cases and KPIs. Most attendees came from the EMEA region, although I regularly detected American accents also.
It has been a couple of years since I last attended a Hadoop/big data event -I believe it was 2013- and it was interesting last week to see the field maturing. Only a few years ago, solution providers and sessions focused primarily on educating attendees on the specifics of Hadoop, data lakes, definitions of big data and theoretical use cases: “wouldn’t it be nice if we could..”. Those days are gone. Already in 2015, Betsy Burton from Gartner discussed in her report “Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies ” that big data quickly had moved through the hype cycle and had become a megatrend, touching on many technologies and ways of automation. This became obvious in this year’s Dataworks Summit. Technical folks questioned how to quickly give their business counterparts access and control over big data driven analytics. Access control, data privacy and multi-tenancy were key topics in many conversations. Cloud versus local still came up, although the consensus seemed to be that cloud is becoming unavoidable, with some companies and industries adopting faster than others. Business people inquired about use cases and implementation successes. Many questions dealt with text analysis, although a fair number of people wanted to discuss voice analysis capabilities and options, especially for call center processes. SynerScope’s AI/machine learning case study of machine-aided tagging and identifying pictures of museum artifacts also got a lot of interest. Most business people however had a difficult time coming up with business cases in their own organizations benefitting from this capability.
This leads me to an observation that was made in some general sessions also: IT and technical people tend to see Hadoop/data lake/big data initiatives as a holistic undertaking, creating opportunities for all sorts of use cases in the enterprise. Business people tend to run their innovation by narrowly defined business cases, which forces them to limit the scope to a specific use case. This makes it difficult to justify and get funding for big data initiatives beyond pilot phases. We probably all would benefit if both business and IT would consider big data initiatives holistically at the enterprise level. As was so eloquently stated in Thursday’s general session panel: “Be brave! The business needs to think bigger. Big Data addresses big issues. Find your dream projects”! I thought it was a great message, and it must be rewarding for everybody working in the field that we can start helping people with their dream projects. I know that at SynerScope we get energized by listening to our clients’ wishes and dreams and making these into realities. There still is a lot of work to be done to fully mature big data and big insights, and make dreams come true, but we all came a long way since 2013. I am sure the next step on this journey to maturity will be equally exciting and rewarding.