Therapy for IT Insanity: ‘Big Data’ Deemed Mission Critical

A new study concludes that 70 percent of Federal IT executives deem “Big Data,” as a transformative lynchpin for mission critical work.  Published by MeriTalk, an online government IT resource, and sponsored by EMC Corporation, a leading provider of IT storage hardware solutions, “The Smarter Uncle Sam: The Big Data Forecast” the study’s results are opening eyes to new practices in effectiveness and efficiency.

After polling 150 Federal IT executives, the study determined that an adequate Big Data Strategy has the potential to achieve substantial, tangible benefits including increases in efficiency with streamlined decision-making through enhanced and quantitatively deeper insights. More appreciable (especially with budget cuts still looming and ongoing fears surrounding sequestration remaining), are the cost-savings for a robust and competent strategy that suggest a 14 percent agency wide budget savings, amounting to almost $500 billion, as the study explains.

“Big Data is transforming government,” says Rich Campbell, Chief Technologist, Federal at EMC Corporation. “Each agency needs to first identify how Big Data can support their mission objectives, then assess the infrastructure, the savings opportunity, and start with a pilot project. There is enormous opportunity ahead for government to apply Big and Fast Data to manage data growth, gain new insights from data, and innovate in ways that weren’t possible before due to technology limitations. It will enable agencies to be more productive, work smarter and be more agile – to keep up with the pace of change.”

Nearly a quarter of survey participants indicated that significant allocation of resources, between IT systems, data capture, processing and storage, had been launched as a means to better understand how Big Data challenges can be expeditiously addressed.

The study points out that research and development dollars are being earmarked for Big Data projects with specific emphasis on the following trifold areas of importance:

  • Increasing server storage capacity to house and analyze Big Data
  • Determining bandwidth needs for storage and analytics
  • Advancing data mining practices

Additionally, the study supports a widely held belief that leveraging Big Data will be critical to fulfilling Federal mission goals and objectives in the next five years:

  • 51 percent said Big Data will help improve processes and efficiency
  • 44 percent said Big Data will enhance security
  • 31 percent said Big Data will help their agency predict trends

“Big Data’s different from other IT initiatives – because it’s not an IT initiative,” says Steve O’Keeffe, Founder, MeriTalk. “If assuming the same behavior and expecting a different outcome is the definition of insanity, Big Data may provide the common-sense therapy we need to make better decisions in government.”

Ultimately, the study stated that of those surveyed, 69 percent believe that Big Data will assist in creating a smarter government while at the same time a dismal 31 percent of participants indicated that their agencies currently possess an adequate Big Data strategy.

The MeriTalk study has a margin of error of +/-7.97 percent at a 95 percent confidence level. The full report is available here: “The Smarter Uncle Sam: The Big Data Forecast.”


About the author:

Timothy W. Coleman is a security analyst who has co-founded two technology startup firms. He has a Masters of Public and International Affairs in Security and Intelligence Studies and a Masters of Business Administration in Finance. You can follow his updates on Twitter @CyberTimbo.

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