Big bucks for big data

Not everyone believes big data is a big concern. Is it just the latest headline scare to boost a CIO's budget? Is it merely an incremental step in IT's growing importance for business? Or is it merely fodder for Gartner's "hype cycle" chart?

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Believe me, it's real. It's here. And it's changing the IT landscape forever.

Although I wrote a column for Forbes called "The Big Lie About Big Data," my provocatively titled essay was intended to undermine the notion that IT would be overwhelmed by the arrival of big data, not that it was a falsehood. And there's no better argument for big data's reality than that CIO's budget, which is allocating and spending money on big data solutions.

Governments on both sides of the Atlantic are gearing up for big data investments. In the UK, it's deemed so valuable that there's a call to make an Advanced Analytics team part of the Cabinet Office. And the White House has launched a $200 million initiative to tackle big data problems in the federal government.

But it's more than just data-drenched governments that are spending on big data technologies. It's business. In a Gartner survey conducted in July, 25% of respondents said they already have spent money on big data-related projects; another 31% said they would do the same in the next 24 months. In fact, the market research firm upped its 2012 IT spending forecast in part due to enterprises spending on IT services related to big data.

For me, the proof of whether technology solves a real business problem is when CIOs start spending money on it. That's happening now, and will only accelerate as vendors develop more tools and services that address more big data issues for more companies.

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