Big Data In 2014: Top Technologies, Trends

What will the next year hold for big data? Here's what industry heavyweights predict.

"For the first time in 30 years, the data preparation-versus-analytics time ratio will flip as the amount of time we spend getting data ready will be reduced by half. This is great news for analysts since 70-80% of time is spent on data preparation. Traditional large ETL vendors will attempt to enter the business-led data preparation market, but products focused on data scientists will fall short of their promise." --Prakash Nanduri, CEO, Paxata

"Upon realizing that they can harvest the buying signals from the Web, social media and third-party data sources like Lexis Nexis and PIERS to identify the leads most likely to become closed deals, marketers will begin to follow the practices of companies like Google, Facebook, and Netflix and focus on drawing insights from data. With all the pieces now in place -- the cloud, large installed bases of CRM and marketing automation systems, and the exploding data volume -- predictive marketing and applications will democratize the power of buying signals for everyone -- no team of data scientists required." Shashi Upadhyay, CEO, Lattice

"Employers will leverage big data in 2014 to close skills gaps. Advancements in data science and the widespread adoption of recruitment technologies, such as applicant tracking systems (ATS), have created a perfect storm of opportunity for employers to leverage big data in their recruitment efforts." --Ken Lazarus, CEO, Scout

"Smart data -- a more complex, integrated, multi-step, social-network-aware, knowledge-based analysis -- will be replacing [a] big data approach for many problems. Watch for deep network learning, a human-level performing method, to come out of the lab and appear in R & Python packages." --Gregory Piatetsky, KDnuggets

"In 2014, big data will get contextual. More organizations will realize [that] the secret to leveraging big data's full potential is the ability to hone in on the select contextual data that matters most to customers and businesses. We saw many companies get hung up on collecting as much data as possible in 2013 rather than zeroing in on the data that moves the needle. In the upcoming year, companies that are able to define which datasets will have the most impact on crafting a great customer experience will succeed in gaining the competitive edge. This will translate into the realm of sales as well. More companies will recognize that being able to provide their salespeople with information pooled from social channels, purchase history, and CRM means arming them with the big data context needed to engage customers and prospects with highly targeted messages." --Andy MacMillan, SVP and GM of Salesforce

"The collection and analysis of big data will be increasingly complemented with a focus on activating that data in real time, at the point of decisioning. Whether in-store, online, over the phone, etc., the ability to extract from massive data stores the exact relevant and actionable details that will enhance a single customer interaction -- and help deliver the desired outcome -- will become a differentiating capability. That will involve not just the data itself, but technological infrastructure as well as business processes built around data to enable its extraction, delivery, and packaging, just in time." --Ari Buchalter, COO, MediaMath

"I predict that gurus who think they are data scientists will give up due to lack of income … Although a lot of people started and will start data-science-as-a-service companies, few will be able to continue in 2014/2015. Therefore, I predict that there will be a lot of acquisitions and mergers among data science companies, as well as people giving up and going back to the corporate world." --Carla Gentry, founder, Analytical-Solution

Ellis Booker is a technology journalist who has covered ecommerce, business strategy and marketing for InformationWeek, InternetWeek, and other publications. He is based in Evanston, Illinois.

IT groups need data analytics software that's visual and accessible. Vendors are getting the message. Also in the State Of Analytics issue of InformationWeek: SAP CEO envisions a younger, greener, cloudier company. (Free registration required.)