Big Data to Mean Big Spending by 2018

By Steve Anderson September 09, 2013

Big data has prompted a lot of consideration and care pretty much since it first showed up, and businesses have wondered how this new technology would fit into everyday operations for quite some time. The answers coming back, meanwhile, are sparking plenty of interest, and along with that interest comes plenty of spending. But it's just how high the spending will get—at least, if a recent study from ABI Research proves correct—that should really stagger the imagination.

According to the ABI Research study, spending on big data at the organization level will clear $31 billion by the end of 2013. That alone likely has some giving a low whistle of respect, but by 2018—just five years from now—the spending will make $31 billion look like a drop in the bucket. By 2018, according to the report, spending will hit $114 billion, making for a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 29.6 percent.

Interestingly, about half of the spending on big data, according to ABI Research's senior analyst Aapo Markkanen, comes from salaries paid out in getting people to operate the things that go into big data. The other half is on products and services offered in the big data field. Markkanen calls the spending on salaries “significant overspending,” and notes that “a good share of the money is spent on the associated professional services, which have sprung up to assist firms that are data-rich but skills-poor.”

This bit of knowledge in turn opens up significant opportunities for similar professional services to step in and offer to take the burden of spending off the enterprises' hands in exchange for payment that would equal at least somewhat less than was being spent on salaries. Additionally, it's also opening up new possibilities in terms of big data products and services that make things simpler to help narrow that “skills gap,” as some call it, including improvements in bringing SQL to Hadoop clusters as represented by Cloudera's Impala concept.

Meanwhile, ABI Research's practice director, Dan Shey, also brought in some remarks to explain better what was going on in the field: “Machine learning and its application in advanced analytics is one area that will make both the public and private sectors data-savvier than anything we’ve seen so far. Big players such as IBM and HP are understandably moving to this direction, but at the same time we can also see analytics startups, like Ayasdi and Skytree, that have machine learning in their very DNA. Eventually, such innovations will put analytics within any domain expert’s reach. At that point, data will stop being ‘big’ again.”

Big data is still something of an emerging technology. But with emerging technologies come emerging markets and, likewise, emerging opportunities. That's making for a lot of room in the field for companies particularly on the ball to step in and make some big strides. It's hard to turn down the impact that big data can bring to a business—its predictive capability alone, matched with its ability to analyze trends and distill said analysis into actionable points is the kind of thing that marketing dreams are made of—even with the kind of spending that may be involved. Big data may indeed be hard to pass up, and as development carries on the resulting products and services are likely to only get better for the potential buyers.

Edited by Alisen Downey

Contributing TechZone360 Writer

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