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February 27, 2013
By TEKsystems

It is no secret that big data is influencing the IT industry like few technologies or trends have done so before. If analyzed effectively, these massive information caches can help companies improve their decision-making and take their businesses to another level. However, managing big data is a difficult endeavor, according to a recent report by Microsoft.

Susan Hauser, corporate vice president of Microsoft, explained that big data allows organizations to replace making decisions on hunches and spot trends more quickly.

"Big data absolutely has the potential to change the way governments, organizations, and academic institutions conduct business and make discoveries, and its likely to change how everyone lives their day-to-day lives," said Hauser.

Hauser added that organizations can use a number of tools to make the management of big data more tolerable. These solutions include Microsoft SQL Server, PowerPivot, SharePoint, Office and Windows Server.

What is the potential of big data?
Big data is shaping our very lives in a number of ways. According to Dan Vesset, program vice president at IDC, people generate information everyday, whether they are driving their cars, shopping online, browsing the internet or attending class. The true advantages of this data, however, depends largely on differing opinions, he said.

"A lot of the ultimate potential is in the ability to discover potential connections, and to predict potential outcomes in a way that wasn't really possible before. Before, you only looked at these things in hindsight," Vesset said.

With so much data being produced, Hauser indicated that Microsoft has been preparing for this development since the company's very inception. She said the tech giant believes that having the ability answer questions organizations never thought about asking is why Microsoft is excited about the big data phenomenon.

Is too much data a bad thing?
In addition to its sheer size, big data also comes with other potential issues. Microsoft Technical Fellow Dave Campbell suggested that the IT trend has reached a "tipping point," because there is no reason to dispose of any information like before.

"We are at an amazing inflection in which so much is already born digital today, even inherently analog data such as voicemail and photographs," Campbell said.

The proliferation of big data is also expected to significantly impact the IT jobs landscape, as more organizations try to attract professionals to manage this information. However, doing so will be difficult, which prompted one industry expert to encourage firms to do all they can to retain current staff members.

Gartner Research Vice President Hung LeHong recently told those in attendance at a Toronto conference that big data is expected to create millions of jobs by 2015, but only one-third of these positions will be filled, ITWorldCanada reported. LeHong suggested that workers with the proper background in event processing, distributing computing and storage, NoSQL databases and Hadoop will be highly in demand moving forward.

Identifying the right data is the key
Much like LeHong noted, Microsoft also realizes the importance of tools like Hadoop when it comes to managing big data more effectively. Microsoft said the platform helps manage unstructured and structured data, which generally includes Structured Query Language (SQL). SQL allows firms to choose specific pieces, rows or columns of their databases. On the other hand, unstructured information does not follow a certain structure and can include images, email and text.

Eron Kelly, general manager at Microsoft SQL Server, said the amount of data produced in the next five years will be greater than the previous 5,000 years.

"What we're trying to do is allow a broad set of skills, driving simplicity and ease of use into the area of big data," Kelly said. "Taking very complex technical problems and simplifying them with easy-to-use tools - that's been the Microsoft strategy over the last 30 years."

Don't get shut out
Given the fact that companies will be fighting over big data experts in the foreseeable future, firms should be looking for ways to find relevant talent for their operations. Big data professionals are one of the hottest IT careers going, but greater IT training is needed to fulfill these openings.

Organizations can enlist the expertise of IT staffing professionals to find employees educated in big data. Not every company is an expert in the tech field, making it even more difficult to locate the right skill sets. There is nothing more deflating than deploying a new solution and not having the proper support to leverage these systems, and given the scope of big data, companies need all the help they can get. Service providers like TEKsystems help businesses bridge this gap to ensure their IT deployments are backed by trained workers to ensure their deployment reaches their full potential. 

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