Modern business data acquisition, analytics, and warehousing have increased in both scale and frequency in recent years. The rapid development of new technologies to deal with these massive quantities of data has given birth to the so-called "Big Data" revolution. As a result, there are few industries that are isolated from the growing need to make data collection and analysis a core part of their business strategies.
If you're at all familiar with current big data platforms, you may have already heard of Apache Hadoop. It provides an open-source big data framework with a fault-tolerant and distributed data processing architecture. Many businesses have built and expanded their big data processing operations using Hadoop as a base, integrating other technologies and platforms as they see fit. The engineers of these types of systems must strive to anticipate current and future usage, as well as maintain flexibility as needs change.
On industry in particular that began applying big data techniques early on can be found in healthcare. As early as 1996, Geisinger began using a UDA (unified data architecture) to store and analyze all available patient data.They're an excellent example of the ways that large industries can derive value from these emerging technology platforms.
By aggregating all patient data into a single analytical system, it became possible to get a big-picture approach to patient care. Analysis of the available information was able to increase efficiency by cataloging test results that revealed potential problems, even when the results were not applicable to the test's intent. Revealing additional health problems using data from previous hospital and doctor visits allows patients to be given preventative treatments and prevents duplicative tests and lab work.
Another sector that is already making extensive use of big data and analytics is the education industry. The collection of course results, grades, and student demographic information is allowing schools and universities to fine-tune their classes and cater to students with specific educational needs. With an analytical approach, precious educational funding can be directed towards learning approaches that are proven to be succeeding. This leaves more resources available for things like the arts, special education, and sports.
Growth Drives Innovation
As I.T managers and engineers deal with a constantly evolving big data landscape, they're often forced to draw upon a diverse toolset to meet the business goals they're tasked with achieving. The data analytics trend has also cropped up in some unexpected places, proving that there's a place for big data in many yet-to-be-explored applications. As these new systems are devised, developers are turning to existing technology from other applications to extend their functionality.
A perfect example of this merging of existing concepts with analytics platforms is the drive to integrate blockchain technology into the big data storage architecture. Leveraging the inherent security and distributed storage of blockchain-encoded data, next-generation big data systems will be more resilient and resistant to attack.
Major Industry Players Are All-In
Sensing a lucrative business emerging, most of the major technology companies have rushed in to create and refine new big data tools to satisfy business needs. Microsoft's Azure platform, for example, now offers a cloud-based service that aims to unify big data tools and applications for their customers. It includes tools to discover and classify data from a wide variety of data collection systems. This approach creates a data catalog, which is independent of data storage location and provides searchable, centralized access to all available business data. The end-user can then utilize the data they find in their own business application, as well as contribute new information to the set.
Microsoft's hardly alone in the space, having already been joined by industry heavyweights including Oracle, I.B.M., Amazon, and SAP. This is significant, since these larger organizations have traditionally been late arrivals in new business sectors. In this case, however, these companies have already begun to invest heavily in big data development. This massive amount of competition is sure to drive even further adoption and extension of big data practices and tools into an ever-expanding array of businesses.
Many Platforms, One Goal
In the competitive and growing big data space, there is an obvious and overarching goal at work. Put very simply, the goal is to put existing business data to work and find uses for new streams of information. It's pretty clear that the widespread adoption of big data platforms is also helping to drive economic growth, which is good for everyone.
In addition to the financial benefits, the use of data management and analytics tools are already providing worthwhile social benefits from health to education and beyond. As more companies and public-sector agencies begin to deploy their own big data architectures, we can expect to see new innovation and more rapid technological advances in the field. It's an exciting and beneficial trend that we should all pay close attention to into the future.
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