Hadoop is steadily gaining adoption as an enterprise platform for capturing high-scale and highly variable data that's not easy or economically viable to store in relational databases. What's less clear is just how companies are going to analyze all this data.
A recent Forrester report declared that Hadoop is "no longer optional" for large enterprises. Our data suggests that train hasn't left the station just yet: Just 4% of companies use Hadoop extensively, while 18% say they use it on a limited basis, according to our just-released 2015 InformationWeek Analytics, Business Intelligence, and Information Management Survey. That is up from the 3% reporting extensive use and 12% reporting limited use of Hadoop in our survey last year. Another 20% plan to use Hadoop, though that still leaves 58% with no plans to use it.
But there's no doubt that interest in Hadoop is rising. The top draw is the platform's "ability to store and process semi-structured, unstructured, and variable data," cited by 31% of the 374 respondents to our survey involved with information management technology. Another 30% cited Hadoop's ability to handle "massive volumes of data," while 25% said it's Hadoop's "lower hardware and storage scaling costs" as compared to conventional relational database management systems.
That's the IT, data-management perspective on the need for Hadoop. But why is the business looking to capture and analyze big data in the first place? The top driver, cited by 48% of respondents using or planning to deploy data analytics, BI, or statistical analysis software, is finding correlations across multiple, disparate data sources, like Internet clickstreams, geospatial data, and customer-transaction data. Next in line are predicting customer behavior, cited by 46%, and predicting product or service sales, cited by 40% of respondents (multiple responses allowed, see chart below). Other motivations include predicting fraud and financial risks, analyzing social network comments for customer sentiment, and identifying security risks.
In each of these examples, companies are searching for insight by analyzing big data sets that they couldn't discover parsing the same old data they've long held in transactional systems alone. Capturing and analyzing clickstreams, server log files, social network streams, and geospatial data from mobile apps is a recent, big-data-era phenomenon for most organizations attempting it, and they're gaining insights and seeing correlations that just weren't available in the enterprise data warehouse.
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Doug Henschen is Executive Editor of InformationWeek, where he covers the intersection of enterprise applications with information management, business intelligence, big data and analytics. He previously served as editor in chief of Intelligent Enterprise, editor in chief of ... View Full Bio