Big data is already a US$46 billion market, but you ain't seen nothin' yet

'Sooner rather than later, big data will become table stakes for enterprises,' one analyst says

Big data has been a big buzzword for more than a few years already, and it's got some solid numbers to back that up, including US$46 billion in 2016 revenues for vendors of related products and services. But the big data era is still just beginning to dawn, with the real growth yet to come.

So suggests a new report from SNS Research, which predicts that by the end of 2020, companies will spend more than $72 billion on big data hardware, software, and professional services. While revenue is currently dominated by hardware sales and professional services, that promises to change: By the end of 2020, software revenue will exceed hardware investments by more than $7 billion, the researcher predicts.

"Despite challenges relating to privacy concerns and organizational resistance, big data investments continue to gain momentum throughout the globe," the company said in a summary of the report, which was announced Monday.

Others echo the same sentiment.

"Sooner rather than later, big data will become table stakes for enterprises," said Tony Baer, a principal analyst at Ovum. "It will not provide unique competitive edge to innovators, but will add a new baseline to the analytics and decision support that enterprises must incorporate into their decision-making processes."

It is indeed still early days for such initiatives, said Frank Scavo, president of Computer Economics.

"Business intelligence and data warehousing are top areas for technology spending this year, but only about one-quarter of organizations are including big data in their investment plans," said Scavo, citing his own company's research. "So, what we are seeing today is just the tip of the iceberg."

Cloud storage and services are making big data affordable for most organizations, but realizing the benefits can be a challenge. That's in large part due to the current shortage of business analysts and IT professionals with the right skills, particularly data scientists, he said.

"If you’re planning to invest in big data, you’d better be ready to invest in your people to develop the needed skills," Scavo said. "At the same time, if you’re an IT professional just starting out in your career, big data would be a great area to focus on."

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