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BYOS: The Potent Digestif to Handle Big Data

We live in a funny world when it comes to IT making life ever more fast and furious: On the one hand, the phenomenon known as big data is sweeping industries and organizations, striking fear into the hearts of geeks and bean counters. On the other hand, some pundits have already declared the term as a misnomer, if not badly overhyped and thus dead on arrival. All data is big, they argue, so stop lecturing us.

Let’s take a deep breath and ask a straightforward question: What are the next disruptive trends in business computing, and what are the consequences? My answer is equally straightforward: Data is the most valuable asset, and information technology that allows businesses to squeeze more value from their data is becoming available beyond our wildest dreams. It started with BYOD, or “bring your own device,” and is now complemented by something even more disruptive: BYOS, short for “bring your own services.”

I’m not making this up to scare CIOs. Seven out of 10 of SMBs report that their employees are already bringing their own applications to work, according to a recent survey by Edge Strategies and LogMeIn >. Their findings, based on polling 1,200 small and mid-size companies in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia and New Zealand, are hardly surprising. This trend is a direct result of the BYOD revolution and the next logical step in how SMBs will become fully data-driven, since it opens the door for every employee and external partner to create value, at will and ad hoc.

If you crunch numbers for a living, big data is a dish too delicious to pass up, and being free to choose the services and apps that work best for your business is a wonderful digestif: You can make a full meal of big data and avoid any indigestion. Express your creativity with the devices and services you’re most comfortable working with, and you stand a better chance of cutting big data streams down to size faster, asking better questions and finding good answers. That all adds to the bottom line, no matter how small your shop is.

Of course there’s one big catch to this newfound freedom: loss of control. As we know, CIOs and IT executives in general are adamant about remaining in charge of their organization’s IT infrastructure, strategy and security, and the above-mentioned survey shows that less than one-quarter of IT executives feel they are fully prepared to deal with BYOS and this latest wave of insubordination.

Executives, though, must realize that both BYOD and BYOS are forces of nature. The only way forward for companies is to realize their potential and embrace the movement. They should support multiple devices on multiple platforms, while working to ensure that their data remains secure.

It’s a matter of staying competitive and attracting new talent while not taking your eyes off compliance and liability issues. Today, 69 percent of the social apps and 52 percent of the cloud sync and storage apps utilized by SMBs were originally used by their employees before they were deployed organization-wide. That’s why I tell skeptical CIOs and CEOs to look at the advantages of accepting these services and utilizing them throughout their companies. If they are approached in a smart and secure fashion, BYOD and BYOS can result in tremendous cost savings.

Bringing services and apps of one’s choice will empower employees to discover new and innovative ways to achieve the holy grail of any organization: increased profitability. It nudges the smart people on the team to ask the right questions: What are the hidden profit centers? Where are our offline and online dollars best spent? Who in our extended network of partners and suppliers contributes the most to our bottom line? Where are the other smart guys you can connect with? Where have we overlooked an opportunity to connect the dots between social media metrics and POS data?

If you lock down your employees and force them to use pre-ordained devices and services, you literally leave money on the table, every second and with every click. Big data remains largely untouched, becoming something of an expert knowledge domain.

It’s anything but.

Nearly everybody today has the tools and skills to cut big data down to size, to dissect and digest it, and derive value from it. Almost one in two IT decision-makers at SMBs believe BYOS will increase flexibility, and one in three says greater service flexibility will help them identify and fill gaps in their IT infrastructure.

Like BYOD before it, BYOS is a trend we won’t be able to stop. Recognizing this, we might as well get out in front of it and be successful before the rest of the corporate world stops being frightened. Even if you don’t like the label, big data is too valuable a resource to be left to some experts.

Big data can be as big as your expectations. BYOS can help you bite off more than you might otherwise chew..

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