What is Happening? This week has been full of Cloud Big Data and analytics announcements. From Intel to Microsoft, RedHat to VMware, IBM to Informatica, we’ve seen a series of rollouts, enhancements, extensions and open source contributions.

The consensus of Saugatuck’s discussions this week with provider and user enterprise executives is that the majority of provider activity consists of positioning themselves for future, expected opportunities; and the majority of user enterprise activity consists of interest, searches for knowledge, trials and PoCs.

The most interest expressed is in the concept of data analytics, especially Big Data, rather than in the details of how it will work or benefit the enterprise customer – i.e., what the actual business value of the data and analysis will be.

In fact, something that has become more and more clear as we talk with user executives is that, despite the hype and interest, and the search for knowledge about the topic, few yet have any good feel or understanding of what the value of Big Data analytics, integration and management will be to their business.

That’s because very few user enterprise of any type really understand what the value of data actually is or can be to their businesses. But what is even less understood, though probably is much greater for the enterprise, is the value of data management.

Why is it Happening? We believe that most, if not all, business data has value. That value changes over time, and in relation to business mission, goals, and operations.

One of Saugatuck’s core tenets regarding the business value of data is that its value tends to increase the more it is used (a forthcoming perspective will be published in March on this topic available to premium research subscribers). Data that is used in several aspects of the business, for example, tends to be more valuable to the business. This relatively simple concept can be readily plotted (usually in linear fashion) and visualized. The actual value itself may be greater for some areas of the business and less in others. We examined the relativity of business data value for our subscription clients early in 2012 (read “Big Data: A Framework for Evaluating Competitive Advantage”).

But as we move more toward Big Data, including large volumes of data along with multiple types of structured and unstructured data from multiple sources, the value of the data becomes more difficult to identify, quantify, and realize – and storing metadata becomes an increasing challenge in its own right. Simply having large volumes of data is nothing new for most businesses. Knowing what to do with the data, and being able to do those things with the data, is key to unlocking the value of any data, big or otherwise.

This, we suggest, makes the ability to effectively and efficiently manage data at least as valuable to the business as the data itself. The greater the volume of data accessed and used, multiplied by the number of instances/situations/systems in which the data is used, increases not only the value of the data but the value (and cost) of managing that data. The increased volume and range of usage also increases the financial risk of data loss to the business, further increasing the value of effective and efficient data management.

Figure 1 lays out a very simplistic conceptual model of the relative business value of data versus the relative business value of data management.

Figure 1: Conceptualizing the Value of Business Data vs. the Value of Data Management

For our arguments, “data management” includes all aspects of Master Data Management, such as (but not limited to) storage, standardization, access, integration, quality, identity management, masking/protection, and uptime/availability. Future Saugatuck Lens360 blog posts, Research Alerts, and Strategic Perspectives (for our premium research subscribers) will continue to examine and refine our consideration and definitions of data value.

For an extended version of this Research Alert, visit Saugatuck Technology.