Big Data's Big Picture: An Insider's View - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Data Management // Big Data Analytics
08:06 AM
Connect Directly

Big Data's Big Picture: An Insider's View

Platfora CEO Ben Werther says re-creating SQL analysis on top of Hadoop won't unlock the huge value in big data. Business must connect the dots across silos of data.

IW: So what are some examples of new data and bigger questions at Edmunds?

Werther: Their clickstream data, for example, was tagged with all sorts of important attributes that gave them segmentation data and other augmentations that weren't possible in the conventional database environment. The big step was making it accessible to business users. With Platfora, they've enabled the business analysts to do data discovery and visualization from Hadoop.

The future is where it gets really exciting, because instead of just doing path analysis and Web analysis to optimize clicks, they're doing path analysis to optimize revenue. They're connecting the dots across the different types of data -- clickstreams, downstream transactions, and auto-dealer-network data -- so business users can optimize to the metric that matters and not just be stuck with the fiction, feeling, and faith that comes from data that gives you a limited view of events.

IW: BI vendors have talked about "data-driven enterprises" for years. What's really different here?

Werther: What's different is that the whole industry has been built around a traditional data warehousing structure where you have a fact table in the middle and then dimensions around that. But that makes it very hard to connect the dots across different types of events and ask questions about patterns of behavior. We've inverted that so you have the subject, the customer, for example, in the middle and all the event streams around that.

IW: Plenty of vendors talk about developing a more holistic view that spans the silos. Is this really unique to the emerging big data trend?

Werther: Companies are talking about it, but most vendors are just working on rebuilding SQL on this new stack. That doesn't address the big questions I'm talking about because SQL isn't designed for doing event-correlation with behavior.

IW: And yet one of the big trends in 2013 has been the SQL-on-Hadoop movement because people are saying we can't rely on data scientists and code writing to ask all these questions. Doesn't the SQL option at least give more people access to big data?

Werther: BI and the traditional ways of looking at data are designed for certain types of questions and certain types of data. People are starting to realize it's not about re-creating the old. With big data analytics, you can actually develop a 360-degree view of customer behavior. It makes the old questions look pretty thin.

BI might give you pretty dashboards, but they don't really contain the data that you need to make fact-based decisions. There are plenty of good, smart people trying to work with the technologies, but their ability to ask the right questions has been very limited. Big data analytics is going to change that. It's not about trying to re-create BI in this new world and it's not about coming up with crazy ways to use data science. It's about basic business questions like customer lifetime value and the ability to understand patterns of behavior that let you directly change the way you work with customers.

There's no single migration path to the next generation of enterprise communications and collaboration systems and services, and Enterprise Connect delivers what you need to evaluate all the options. Register today and learn about the full range of platforms, services and applications that comprise modern communications and collaboration systems. Register with code MPIWK and save $200 on the entire event and Tuesday-Thursday conference passes or for a Free Expo pass. It happens in Orlando, Fla., March 17-19.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
2 of 2
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
D. Henschen
D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
11/19/2013 | 9:34:45 AM
Re: Big Data is NOT ONLY about Big amount of Data
I don't think Werther or this article is hung up on volume or the "big" in big data. The point here is that big data opportunity will NOT be unlocked by applying SQL analysis techniques. SQL has its place, but Hadoop has unleashed a variety of data analysis techniques that are about connecting the dots between disparate data sets -- not analyzing highly structured data with speed.
Li Tan
Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
11/19/2013 | 9:04:02 AM
Big Data is NOT ONLY about Big amount of Data
I think the critical issue here is that, you cannot simply consider big data as only big amount of data. The volume is just one characteristics of big data but the essence is far beyond that. If the enterprise just managed to get data stored to Hadoop and use the tool like Sqoop to import the legacy data to HDFS without using big data analytics to draw meaningful conclusion, then big data is of little use to this enterprise.
Enterprise Guide to Edge Computing
Cathleen Gagne, Managing Editor, InformationWeek,  10/15/2019
Rethinking IT: Tech Investments that Drive Business Growth
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  10/3/2019
IT Careers: 12 Job Skills in Demand for 2020
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  10/1/2019
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Current Issue
Getting Started With Emerging Technologies
Looking to help your enterprise IT team ease the stress of putting new/emerging technologies such as AI, machine learning and IoT to work for their organizations? There are a few ways to get off on the right foot. In this report we share some expert advice on how to approach some of these seemingly daunting tech challenges.
Flash Poll