Big Data London focuses on future of data-driven strategies

At Big Data London, data quality and intelligence took center stage as companies strive for fast and efficient delivery of quality information -- and the vendors to make it happen.

Last week I attended Big Data London, an exciting opportunity to engage with industry experts, data architects and data users in person.

Big Data London is the U.K.'s leading data and analytics event, with more than 150 vendors, 300 expert speakers and an estimated 10,000 attendees coming together to discuss data-driven strategies. During the event, I interviewed seven vendors to get their perspectives and insights on where the market was going, the challenges they saw and more.

My point of view, which was supported by the event, is that vendors and customers focusing on becoming data-driven organizations agree, on one side, that sources and volume of raw data are increasing rapidly. On the other side, the number of data users is also expanding. Every part of the business is screaming for data. The challenge lies with everything in between, to take data from its source to destination with the integrity it needs, as fast as possible through a myriad of processes, systems and challenges.

Data quality and intelligence have become even more critical as data volumes and sources grow. To have quality and intelligence, you need analytics, machine learning and increased automation to filter out usable data from unusable data and deliver what every data user needs in real time. This also increases the need for data catalogs and a high degree of governance to control access and ownership. These are just some of the challenges faced by vendors at Big Data London and around the world.

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On the customer side, I'm also seeing a widening gap between organizations rapidly adopting a data-driven strategy as a competitive advantage, as compared with those that are slower to embrace. If organizations are lagging on their data-driven strategies, it is time to accelerate plans. Data is fast becoming the lifeblood of organizations and will create winners and losers over the next couple of years.

The race is on with vendors, and there is a clear debate on how solutions will be delivered. On the one hand, you have more prominent players emerging with the "goal" of being a single vendor from "data sources to data delivery (to data users)." On the other hand, many vendors believe in the ecosystem approach, with open APIs, interoperability and no single-vendor lock-in.

If organizations are lagging on their data-driven strategies, it is time to accelerate plans.

There are certainly pros and cons to both. Even the largest companies do not have the capabilities of being everything to everyone. My opinion from a customer standpoint is that choosing best-of-breed vendors has always proven to be the best strategy. At the core, you can still be one of the larger vendors and leverage their core expertise. The fastest time to implement an approach should be the driving factor.

In my previous blog, I talked about data platforms, which outline the flow of data from sources to users and everything in between. Sources and users are growing rapidly, creating pressure and opportunities for vendors to show where they fit into the data platform model and how they bring value to customers and should be the vendor of choice. Organizations want to be data-driven, and it's up to technology vendors to show the way. This event only strengthened my opinion on this and clarified the challenges and opportunities for both vendors and organizations.

My perspective on the future is that battle lines are clearly being drawn between specialists wishing to thrive in the ecosystem and "federalists" who want to do it all on their platform. In my view, the next 18 months will be changing the landscape, and vendors should sharpen their messaging and use cases, as end-user confusion can easily happen in this fragmented market. They should also double down on their market and education efforts if they want to get a deal, and prioritize their go-to-market channels.

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