If you follow IT, financial or political news and trends, you may have heard a lot lately about the concept of "Big Data". I believe the term came out of the notion that a company like Google or the New York Stock Exchange is storing massive amounts of data every second, and that the stored data is incredibly valuable. This perceived value therefore brings influence and power, much like a major oil and gas company would gain under the umbrella of "Big Oil". After all, those who control the valuable assets, are given the benefit of the doubt more often.
There is another, more technical meaning to the Big Data concept though. According to Wikipedia, Big Data within the Information Technology industry is commonly referred to as "a collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using on-hand database management tools. The challenges include capture, curation, storage, search, sharing, analysis, and visualization." This means that data has, or soon will become, so big, that it will be almost impossible to manage. Crazy.
Maybe I should should cut back on my social media postings, internet searches or blog postings.... nah. Where's the fun in that :-)
Personally, I am fascinated by Big Data. Could a company like Experian have as much political influence in the growing fields of IT data security or Business Intelligence, as Phillip Morris does today over tobacco usage and regulation? They probably already do.
Given that I work within the ITSM/ITAM field, my mind instantly jumps to the data itself, and the databases that house these overwhelming data sets. Trying to picture what Big Data would physically look like is almost impossible... I believe the media has started to quantify it in terms of the Library of Congress. For example, a single database might store 20x what is stored in the Library of Congress! Cool.
There are definitely a business opporunities here. High capacity, scalable servers are more important than ever. Database software and related annual licensing costs need to be evaluated regularly. Skilled resources to manage the data will be in high demand for the foreseeable future.
I am even reading more and more about a relatively new executive position called the Chief Data Officer (CDO). The CDO, depending on the organization, may become more important than the CIO or CTO, as CDO's are responsible "for enterprise-wide data processing and data mining." If you worked at a company that was in charge of say, retail stores, tracking and mining data about your customers may become just as important as inventory control. This is why we all have "frequent shopping cards" for the stores we visit regularly. You get a small discount on your purchase, and in return, you give your shopping data to the store for future data mining efforts.
It therefore seems logical that the role of Asset Management is becoming more and more important as Big Data expands exponentially each year. Note that I said Asset Management (AM), and not IT Asset Management (ITAM). Yes, ITAM will always be important for tracking IT assets around a company, but AM can be more broadly applied, to say, human assets like customers, or to a single internet search, or to whatever your starting data object might be.
From what I know of Asset Magement products on the market, like HP's Asset Manager or AMI's AssetTrack, they are incredibly powerful data management tools that can be broadly applied. No need to think of them solely in terms of IT or physical assets only then. You can track data objects, add relational attribute sub-objects and perform some basic mining of trends.
As a service management tools guy, I would be remiss if I failed to mention that these objects could be pulled in to any service management Incident ticket in the future. For example, if you use an SM tool for your customer service service desk, your "asset" in question is the customer, and the Incident's purpose is to resolve their related issue.
If you can achieve this level of data maturity, you have just gone full circle from data tracking, to data usage, to incident resolution. Add in a robust Business Intelligence solution on top of your Asset Management application, and you have achieved full data mining capabilities.
Suddenly, Big Data is not so big anymore.