In yesterday’s post we spoke to the importance of Big Data, mobile, and cloud as the heavy-lifters in today’s digital technologies marketplace. Each capability is providing unheard of new opportunities for innovation and creativity. The commoditization of these technologies also have made them readily available to small businesses and startups alike. As we described, one phenomenon that is happening is that we’re seeing a greater level of “convergence” between Big Data, cloud, and mobile. Convergence has to do with the alignment of these capabilities in ways that are greater than the sum of their parts. In the rest of this section, we’ll spell out some examples of how these digital technologies are merging and converging together in new ways to provide significant opportunities for the small business.
1. Big Data + Cloud = Analytics-as-a-Service
The growth in Big Data, as well as the expansion in data analytics platforms in recent years such as Hadoop and NoSQL, are creating new opportunities for cloud computing to become a key enabler of Big Data analytics. Public clouds providers, such as Amazon Web Services, Google, and Microsoft, offer their own brands of big data systems in their clouds, whether NoSQL or SQL, that are cost efficient and easily scalable for businesses of all sizes. All of this points us to the reciprocal relationship between cloud and Big Data that is driven by consumer demand for bigger, better, and faster applications. In fact, the combination of Big Data and cloud computing has led to another service model known as Analytics as a Service (AaaS). This model will provide companies with faster, scalable ways to integrate, analyze, transform, and visualize various types of structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data in real time.
Due to the immense size of today’s data sets, moving this volume in and out of a cloud environment has been a challenge. However, there are a growing number of solutions emerging in this space to meet these processing demands. Platforms like Aspera and Qubole offer solutions to the Cloud I/O gridlock. Google, at its recent I/O conference, also announced Cloud Dataflow as it’s cloud-native data processing service (and successor to MapReduce), which will create data pipelines to ingest, transform, analyze data in streaming and batch modes.
The challenge for SMBs is that there’s a lot of potential confusion around how to get onboard with the “Big Data Cloud.” The key here is about engagement. The main question is how do businesses interact, engage with, and listen to their customers and use those insights to drive strategies, and make product, services, and business decisions.
2. Mobile + Cloud = Ubiquitous Computing
Mobile and cloud are overlapping in so many ways that they’ve really blended together into what we’re fast coming to know and recognize as ubiquitous computing, or the idea of computers being available anywhere. This is really all about instant, real-time services. There a name for that, it’s called everything as a service, or “XaaS,” where X is a catch all to describe how any service you want can now be obtained in the cloud. This includes everything from cloud hosting (Dropbox) to project management (Basecamp) to email marketing (MailChimp) and much, much more. It’s to the point now with Single Sign-on (SSO) through Google or Facebook that you can be up and running these services in minutes. Since mobility is the preferred channel for online engagement now, cloud and mobile are interacting and providing enormous new channels for branding, products, and services. In fact, one of the major integrations with XaaS that has everyone’s attention is Internet of Things, which is spawning a host new instant service offerings that will give customers real time access on every conceivable area of their lives and surroundings. IoT is XaaS in a nutshell and the primary channel to ubiquitous computing. The continued ascendancy of mobile computing over desktops, coupled with Internet of Things and wearables, will mean that computers will soon be everywhere. The technologies here are reciprocal, integrated, and constantly unfolding and interacting in creatively new and innovative ways.
3. Big Data + Internet of Things = Huge ROI
Last summer Gartner announced that Internet of Things has now officially replaced Big Data as the most hyped technology. Basic statistics tell us that we’re only scratching the surface of where the Big Data market is going, and again we can see this upward trend in relation to IoT. Researchers predict that by 2020 over 30 billion objects will wirelessly be connected to the internet. With the massive levels of information processing we’re already seeing, it doesn’t take rocket science to imagine the kinds of data that will become available from these sources . . . and the kinds of resources needed to capture and process and share all of this data.
The intersection of Big Data and Internet of Things will create new IT challenges in data storage, integration, and analytics. But it will create many more opportunities than challenges. John Chambers, Cisco CEO, claims this space will have five to 10 times the impact on society as the Internet itself, and is projecting a $19 trillion dollar market for this industry over the next decade. Cisco is putting its money on this fact and has created a whole segment of its company dedicated to IoT research and advancement. But it doesn’t require an enterprise to leverage IoT. In fact, there have never been more opportunities for startups and small businesses to get onboard and start prototyping with IoT. One major channel SMBs will want to focus on is Apple Watch. Apple is expected to raise the bar on IoT with the pending release of its new smartwatch, which doubles as a health and digital fitness tracking device. The gathering of these kinds of metrics are just some of the new innovations that will bring Big Data into an epic new era.