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5 reasons 2015 will be the year of Big Data

Big data has been one of the biggest trends over the last couple of years. Yet while companies seem to have gained a better understanding of the concept in 2014, there is still confusion about how to unlock its true business potential.

In 2015, I expect to see companies explore, and get to grips with this in a variety of areas. Some of my key predictions for the year ahead include:

1. Security Analytics: The hot topic for fraud detection

Analytics will become a key tool in detecting and preventing advanced threats in 2015. According to Mandiant’s M-Trends report on IT security, attackers spend around 229 days on a victim’s network before they are discovered, almost always using valid credentials, and 67 per cent of victims are notified about the threat by someone outside of their organisation.

As the adoption of connected devices grows and data becomes more interlinked, threats and their ability to spread quickly will be more pronounced. Data analytics will therefore be used more proactively to spot unusual event patterns, or anticipate what these patterns might be and set up alerts to escalate them to the right people so they can be solved before they make a major impact.

The fast moving nature of fraud does however mean that patterns are constantly changing and new ones will emerge, so writing rules into software simply isn’t enough. IT and security teams will need challenge themselves to constantly ask new questions of their data and ‘think like a criminal’ about how they would breach a system.

 2. Hadoop: From data store to valuable data insight

Despite accelerated adoption of Hadoop in EMEA in recent years, driving value from the data stored in Hadoop is a time consuming and expensive process that requires experienced data scientists. In 2015 however, analytics on Hadoop and elsewhere will become easier to use and accessible to anyone in a business regardless of their job role and technical know-how.

Self-service analytics, will mean that anyone within an organisation will be able to gain business insight from Hadoop in real-time, opening an organisation’s data to an entirely new audience.

The number and type of organisations looking to “test the waters” with Hadoop will also increase as managed/cloud services make this an affordable option. The rise of PAYG (pay as you go) pricing plans with providers such as AWS, for example, means the initial investment in terms of software, infrastructure and skills can be minimised.

Companies will therefore have the freedom to experiment with Hadoop through “Big Data as a Service” to demonstrate ROI and evaluate the possible return of a bigger investment. This could also apply to departments within an organisation that opt for a DIY approach rather than relying on IT teams.

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3. IoT: An evolution from "connected toothbrushes and Fitbits" to industrial data

In 2015, the conversation around IoT will extend beyond consumer devices to the disruption in traditional ‘bricks & mortar’ industries like building, manufacturing and transportation.

Manufacturing, for example, is increasingly benefitting from the combination of IoT and big data. By linking up sensors and robotics to automate processes, manufacturers are becoming more efficient, while also generating a massive amount of ‘machine data’ which can be indexed, monitored and analysed to provide real time problem solving, machine health monitoring and cost avoidance.

An example in transport is New York Air Brake which is using Splunk Enterprise to save up to $1 billion in fuel and other costs on U.S. railroads. As a leading supplier of braking systems and components, simulators and control systems to the train industry, the company uses real time analytics of data collected from train tracks to define the best driver strategies.

This might range from warning an engineer to back off the throttle five per cent to increase fuel efficiency, or alerting an engineer that gravitational forces threaten to create a dangerous situation a few miles down the track.

4. DevOps: Developer and IT Operational Analytics

In 2015, growing numbers of organisations will be using analytics around DevOps (IT Operational Analytics) to drive software quality and deliver what customers are looking for. For example, when releasing a new web add-on, mobile app, or feature, companies can analyse the data generated as customers interact with it, to measure performance, identify issues and improve / refine the tool.

As a result software products will get to market faster and be driven by customer feedback and adoption analytics. This process can also drive operational intelligence in other areas that will be fed into overall business decisions.

5. Mobile analytics: Extending the reach of customer service to mobile

According to ComScore, more than 60 per cent of consumers’ time spent online with retailers is on a mobile device. The mobile app is therefore becoming as valuable as the website for omnichannel retailers, and a necessity in building a 360 degree view of the customer.

Ensuring customer experience is as good on mobile applications as it is online will therefore become essential in 2015, and securing transactions will be mission critical. Analytics will play a pivotal role in both, helping retailers tailor the customer journey for mobile and spot unusual event patterns that could suggest potential security threats. DevOps will also be central to ensuring quality of releases and the application delivery lifecycle using mobile Application Performance Monitoring (APM).

Omnichannel retailers will also begin to match analytics across all platforms to understand how customers interact with a brand, and develop personalised marketing strategies based on their behaviour patterns.

By Matt Davies, Head of Marketing, EMEA at Splunk