Tap big data to run biz at 'speed of thought'

Companies need to fit existing data warehousing technologies with unstructured data in a systematic and automated fashion to get the most out of big data and improve organizational agility.
Written by Jamie Yap, Contributor

The systematic and automated use of unstructured data that fits neatly with existing relational database and data warehousing technologies is the key to unlocking the value of big data and allowing companies to run their businesses at the "speed of thought".

Kevin Walsh, CTO for Oracle's Asia research and development (R&D) centers, said there are two different worlds of data that exists in and out of the enterprise. The first refers to information stored within the company's relational databases and data warehouses, while the second is the unstructured data over which it has no control over, he said in an interview with ZDNet Asia on Thursday.

In order to fulfill the promise of big data analytics, organizations will need to find the way to connect the two different worlds of data and mine the information in a systematic and automated fashion, Walsh suggested.

Traditional data warehousing technologies have not been optimized for handling unstructured data though, which explains why new technologies such as Hadoop have emerged. But it does not mean companies will have to tear down and redesign their entire IT systems based on new technologies to better leverage the information, he added.

So for customer relationship management (CRM) systems, for instance, the trick is to filter the massive unstructured data that exists outside the enterprise and make sure only valuable information is pulled into the CRM program in real-time, he noted.

By bringing in insights sieved from user dialogues on social networks, this will help improve the quality of customer interactions companies can engage in, Walsh said. The additional context companies glean from mining such data means they do only the right thing at the right time with a particular customer, thus improving the person's satisfaction level with the brand, he explained.

"It's bringing the unstructured data back in line with something the business can actually action on, distilling the information down to something which is useful to its business processes…that's the key to essentially driving returns on investment (ROI) from the technology," the executive stated.

As such, the approach Oracle is taking with big data is making it an extension of what companies are already doing, he said. The goal is to enable companies to plug in the relevant big data sets to the existing data warehousing application and continue to process the data as they have been doing, yet by analyzing the new feeds be able to add new insights to the mining process, he added.

Walsh added the ability of having big data insights processed in real time, so as to create statistical models that are no longer based on historical information, is tremendous leverage for companies.

Organizations gain the agility of being in touch with what's happening now, and be able to "operate at the speed of thought" and not at the speed of when an analysis report is churned out which is backward-looking, he said.

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