SAN JOSE, Calif. — While there has been much buzz of late about opportunities for security integrators to tap into the emerging area of Big Data, new global research by Cisco indicates IT professionals and businesses themselves are struggling to get their arms fully around the concept. The Cisco Connected World Technology Report (CCWTR) surveyed 1,800 IT professionals across 18 countries to examine the IT readiness, challenges, technology gaps and strategic value of implementing Big Data projects.
While most companies are collecting, storing and analyzing data, the report reveals that many are wrestling with both the business and IT challenges of Big Data. For example, while 60% of respondents agreed that Big Data will help improve decision making and increase their competitiveness, only 28% report they are currently generating strategic value from their data.
Jeff Slotnick, CPP, PSP, co-founder of Bellevue, Wash.-based OR3M, a provider of fully integrated security operation centers, tells SSI the survey results jibe with what he is seeing throughout the marketplace. “Most companies don’t understand or know what to do with Big Data. They talk about it, they throw the word around a lot, but Big Data is so much more than cloud computing,” he says. “Big Data is taking the disparate information that is generated by whatever system you have, whether it’s a point-of-sales system or a fully integrated physical security system, and taking that data and operationalizing it to create a common operating picture.”
A key issue is that most enterprises lack a common operating platform. While some have implemented a physical security information management (PSIM) system, which does collect some data that can be utilized for business intelligence, a PSIM is not necessarily Big Data.
“One of the ways we evaluate a physical security system is by having a system that is a combination of people, processes, procedures and equipment — and those all operating in concert,” Slotnick explains. “A PSIM only gives us a part of that, it gives us the equipment piece. But it doesn’t give us the people or the procedures.”
More than a third (38%) said that although they have a Big Data solution, they need a strategic plan to take advantage of Big Data. In fact, IT managers report several obstacles to fully adopting such solutions, with security, budgets and staffing problems topping the list.
More than one in four respondents globally (27%) said data security and risk management is a major concern. They cited the sheer volume of data, the number of ways to access data, and lack of budget for security as the top reasons why securing Big Data projects is a huge challenge. Almost a quarter said they didn’t have enough staff with the right skills to manage their Big Data projects.
Despite significant hurdles, these solutions are expected to spur investment in IT based on technology, personnel and expertise requirements, according to survey results. For instance, more than half of the respondents said their organizations’ IT budgets will increase in 2013, and nearly three out of five (57%) said their budgets would increase during the next three years.
Implementing Big Data strategies will incorporate increased deployment of physical security products and systems, which will be leveraged to support business intelligence programs, Slotnick explains.
“Five years ago we didn’t have the level of devices that were IP-based. Now we have IP devices and we’ve seen in the past year some very good innovations in edge devices, which is where I think information needs to be collected,” he says. “It stands to reason if we are doing more and more IP-based stuff, then, yes, the IT budget is going to grow because somebody has to manage the maintenance and the upgrades of that equipment.”
Paul Boucherle, CPP, principal of Canfield, Ohio-based Matterhorn Consulting, sees opportunity for systems integrators to play a strong role in helping end users migrate to and maintain Big Data strategies. Capturing new business or extending relationships with existing clientele will depend, in part, on integrators being conscious about the finer points of data they are delivering to their customers.
“This requires that they know how their customers use data points to support decisions vs. delivering lots of raw data that must be parsed through Big Data filtering engines,” says Boucherle, who pens SSI’s “Convergence Channel” column. “These are expensive and mining Big Data effectively is still challenging. When systems integrators understand and can design data captures that are more easily found or analyzed they can deliver more value to their customers.”
(To learn more about Big Data, see the February and March installments of “Convergence Channel.”)