Big Data News Roundup

IBM’s Watson visited a few conferences last week. Watson’s lead developer, David Ferrucci delivered a keynote at the ACM’s 2011 Federated Computing Research Conference in San Jose, CA. Erwin Gianchandani reports: “Ferrucci concluded by describing his view of the potential business applications of Watson, spanning healthcare and the life sciences, tech support, enterprise knowledge management and business intelligence, and government (to include improved information sharing and security). Key to all of this, he noted, are evidence profiles from disparate data — a feature used in the development of Watson. Each dimension contributes to supporting or refuting hypotheses based on strength of evidence, important of the dimension, etc. And as more information is collected, evidence profiles may evolve.”

And at the IBM Software Innovate2011 conference, IBM engineers revealed some of the future plans for Watson: “A growing market of Big Data analytics seems to be a natural fit for Watson’s capabilities. If successfully commercialized, Watson could find new trends and previously undiscovered relationships between large data sets, which could bring additional value to the massive data stores that many enterprises are forced to keep today. For example, if Watson does indeed evolve as IBM engineers hope, Watson should be able to bring customers some very esoteric capabilities, such as market analytics that could compare customer histories with global trends, backed by blog research and current news, which could transform the investment and stock markets. However, challenges remain… [IBM researcher Aditya] Kalanpu said using a standard PC, the Watson software would take about two hours to answer a question.”

More news this week from IBM, as it followed-up on its recent CIO study with details regarding “midmarket” enterprises: “83 percent of midmarket CIOs surveyed identified analytics, the ability to extract actionable insights from “Big Data” as their top-priority investment area, while there was a 50 percent increase in the number of midsize organizations that plan to invest in cloud computing, compared to IBM’s 2009 midmarket CIO study.”

Another study (underwritten by MarkLogic), a survey of 446 data managers and professionals who are readers of Database Trends and Applications magazine, found that thirty-five percent of respondents say unstructured information has already surpassed or will surpass the volume of traditional relational data in the next 36 months. Sixty-two percent say this is inevitable within the next decade. A majority of survey respondents acknowledge that unstructured information is growing out of control and is driving the big data explosion – 91% say unstructured information already lives in their organizations, but many aren’t sure what to do about it.

Quote of the Week: “Until businesses get to ACTUALLY USE Big Data systems (and not via proxy built IT applications) it’s value to the business will be minimal.  When businesses get to use Big Data systems directly; there will be dramatic benefit to the business in terms of timeliness, decision making, and insights.” —Goodman on BI