William Shakespeare wrote: "What's past is prologue." Big Data surely builds on our rich past of using data to understand our world, our customers and ourselves.

Now the world is flush and getting flusher in Big Data from cloud, mobile, and the Internet of things. What does it mean for enterprises? In a word: Opportunity. Firms have taken to Big Data.

Here are my four predictions of their key Big Data themes in 2013:

  1. Firms realize that Big Data means all of its data. Big Data is the frontier of a firm’s ability to store, process and access (SPA) all the data it needs to operate effectively, make decisions, reduce risks, and create better customer experiences. The key word in the definition of Big Data is "frontier." Many think Big Data is only about data stored in Hadoop. Not true. Big Data is not defined by how it is stored. It can and will continue to reside in all kinds of data architectures including enterprise data warehouses, application databases, file systems, cloud storage, Hadoop and others. By the way, some predict the end of the data warehouse – that is nonsense. If anything all forms of data technology will evolve and be needed to handle the frontier of Big Data. In 2013, all data is Big Data.
  2. The algorithm wars begin. It’s lazy if your “Big Data” is just sitting on a disk somewhere. Firms increasingly realize that it must use predictive and descriptive analytics to find nonobvious information to discover value in the data. Advanced analytics uses advanced statistical, data mining and machine learning algorithms to dig deeper to find patterns that you can’t see using traditional BI tools, simple queries, or rules. Many of these algorithms have been around for years, but many firms will rediscover their power, combine them in new ways, and even initiate research efforts to find competitive new algorithms. Big Data is the fuel. Algorithms are the engine to explore virgin data, seek out new meaning and models, and delivery more personalized, contextualized customer experiences. Look no further than Internet giants such as Google that invest heavily in algorithms to power services such as Google Now. Firms rush to beef-up their data science capabilities will become an imperative from CEOs in 2013.
  3. Real-time architectures will swing to prominence. Firms that find predictive models in Big Data must put them to use. Firms will seek out streaming, event processing and in-memory data technologies to provide real-time analytics and run predictive models. Mobile is a key driver because hyper-connected consumers and employees will require architectures that can quickly process incoming data from all digital channels to make business decisions and deliver engaging customer experiences in real-time. The result: In 2013 enterprise architects will step out of their ivory tower to focus on technology again, real-time technology that is highly available, scalable and performs.
  4. Naysayers fall silent. Big Data is not just a buzzword. It is real. But, it disrupts many who don't see anything new or don't see the tremendous opportunity firms have to harness it for competitive advantage. My prediction: This is the year that “Time” magazine names Big Data as 2013 person of the year

This blog originally appeared at Forrester Research.

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