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How to Harmonize the Big Data Value Chain

Posted By David Deans, 27 June 2012 | 0 Comments | (1)
Tags: Cisco IBSG Big Data network value chain Telco 2.0

By Roland Klemann, Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG)

The promise of Big Data has inspired many visions of transformation and opportunity. Big Data has even been compared to oil in the late 19th century, when it stood ready to fuel a new age of unprecedented growth. But this will happen with Big Data only if information can be refined, sorted, and moved in real time to the points where it will create value.


Big Data was a major topic at the New Digital Economics EMEA Executive Brainstorm & Innovators Forum, June 12-13 in London. This unique event incorporated four brainstorming tracks: Telco 2.0, Digital Commerce 2.0, Cloud 2.0, and Digital Things 2.0. In general, attendees expressed uncertainly about the best approach for SPs to take regarding Big Data.


One thing, however, is clear: a tsunami of data -- terabytes to petabytes to exabytes -- threatens to swamp many organizations’ processing capacity, especially considering the explosion of unstructured data from social media, video feeds, and the Internet of Things. Extracting key insights in real time from this data deluge seems at times an impossible challenge.


And the data ecosystem, as it stands now, is fraught with complexity, disparity, and miscommunication, blocking the value chain between those who create the data and those who could potentially benefit from it.


To counter these challenges, Cisco IBSG sees the need for a new class of players: Data Infomediaries. Their overarching role would be to facilitate every step along the Big Data value chain, while removing obstacles between the data originators and the data creators. In the process, they will create opportunities for all players to harmonize, realize, and monetize the vast potential of Big Data.


Here are the four main goals we envision for Data Infomediaries:

1. Federate: Enable a Viable Ecosystem. Today, there is no viable marketplace in which to share and benefit from a variety of data sources, and enterprises need to develop the means to use external data by themselves. Data Infomediaries could identify the value, locate the source, work out the legal/business deals, and clean and standardize the data format so that it works with in-house systems. In effect, they would create a clearinghouse and marketplace for the exchange of data across industries, while harmonizing the ecosystem with shared standards.


2. Innovate: Derive Value From a Sea of Chaos. For the end user, acquiring value in a tsunami of data can be like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack. Many organizations are challenged even to experiment with large amounts of data, much less to create value from it. By taking on the roles of identity management and authentication, the Data Infomediary makes it easier for companies to experiment. Once authenticated, that data would be portable and ready to be shared ubiquitously. From the consumer’s perspective, data that is stored on Facebook, for example, could be moved to Myspace or Amazon without having to be re-created each time.


3. Governance: Align Resources Internally and Externally. With data passing through varied way stations—both internal and external—a lack of orchestration and governance is blocking the path to value. To counter this, the Data Infomediary would align resources—internally and externally, publicly and privately—to create harmony under a common cloud structure. This approach would protect data from sabotage, while assuring government agencies that it is being used properly. By gaining the trust of consumers and Big Data players alike, Data Infomediaries would make even more data available for analysis, spurring further real-time action.


4. Scale: Deal with Computational Requirements. The price of handling Big Data will be prohibitive for many organizations, creating the need for third-party services to do their heavy lifting. Data Infomediaries would play a crucial role in coping with the huge volume of data by offering more scalable and economic methods of storage while aiding in data processing.


Cisco IBSG believes a number of players can step into Data Infomediary roles—whether service providers, IT firms, banks, enterprises, Web 2.0 companies, government-sponsored agencies, or new start-ups. But those organizations with an end-to-end mastery of the network will be in the best position.


Far from being a “dumb pipe” simply transporting reams of data, the network is crucial to connecting the various data domains. Those who see far and wide across it will be able to collect data and provide context for those who wish to use it.   


The hype about Big Data is not an illusion. Just like oil more than a century ago, it stands to radically alter the way we live, work, play, sell, travel, heal, you name it. But the pain points on the path to Big Data value will need to be overcome.


Only when industry players step up to the overarching role of the Data Infomediary will the game-changing, transformative force of Big Data become a reality.

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