Most companies undertaking new big data initiatives are doing so with specific business goals in mind. The belief is that a better understanding of their operations, their customers, their research and development will all lead to smarter, timelier decisions, and this will then translate into better results. Done right, this is all true enough, and certainly a worthy pursuit. (Some common mistakes are outlined in my the-discouragement-of-data/index.html" target="_blank">previous blog post about the discouragement of data.)
What is interesting is the popularity of the corollary idea that big data means instantly gaining an edge over one's competitors. This one is trickier, because of the hidden assumption that your competitors are not ALSO improving their own analytics capabilities. ESG research found that a full two thirds felt they were significantly ahead of their peers in big data adoption and maturity. This reminds me of the surveys that show almost everyone believes they are a better than average driver.
My challenge for companies is to figure out what you will do with big data that is uniquely advantageous and increases your leverage from your inherent core competencies.
My homework assignment for vendors is to show how your products and services don't merely add value, but how they are genuinely, technologically differentiated, AND how this translates into serving your clients' desire to get ahead.
Just as an example, X15 emphasizes their unique flexibility, ease-of-live-query, and extreme scalability for analysis of machine and log data. This can lead to more comprehensive IT operational analytics, providing a more cost effective, high performance, and reliable enterprise foundation for running business critical applications, and thereby improving the overall user experience. Makes competitive sense, no?