Q&A | October 16, 2013

Make Big Data Part Of Your Growth Strategy

Bernadette Wilson

By Bernadette Wilson, associate editor, Business Solutions magazine
Follow Me On Twitter @bernadeditor


CompTIA researchers surveyed both IT channel executive and end users for their second annual Big Data Insights and Opportunities study. The study shows how businesses capture, store, manage and analyze data, as well key end user needs and challenges. The study also shows the channel is underestimating its customers’ needs in several areas: search compatibilities across data sources, predictive analytics, end user profiling and segmentation analysis, and data visualization.

Tim Herbert, vice president, research and market intelligence, CompTIA, says the disparity could be the result of a number of things in the young market, but the difference should make solutions providers evaluate whether they are talking to the right people at the company about the goals for Big Data and analytics. “The buying decisions aren’t all coming from the IT Department. You might be looking at the needs of the traditional IT department, but the CMO or head of sales could ask, “How can I be more efficient with the sales pipeline or conversion rates?” Talking to representatives from all departments could better help you create the right solution.

The study reveals about 1 in 3 channel members are providing Big Data application deployment or integration services, and, over the next year, an additional 14 percent expect to offer Big Data consulting or advisory services. Solutions providers expect to invest in technical training, align with vendors or invest in partner programs, or hire new staff to expand into this area. Herbert says, though, because end users are still figuring out how they can best capitalize on Big Data, some solutions providers are in the process of deciding where they will invest their resources.

Herbert says there is an opportunity now for VARs to use current interest and media coverage to start a general conversation about Big Data. However, SMBs could represent a particular challenge — some aren’t sure where or how their data is stored, or even what data they have. “If your customer’s IT isn’t connected or integrated, there might be some significant hurdles,” says Herbert. He suggests offering a simple data audit service to customers to help answer questions — and to discuss that some data is more valuable than other data. “This is the chance to be a trusted business advisor and help your customers,” says Herbert.

Another challenge when approaching customers is the variety of perceptions over what “Big Data” is. First and foremost, as a VAR, you need to know for yourself. Then, to help bridge the communication gap, Herbert suggests, “Start asking your customers about goals. Do they want to use data more effectively? Or do they want to do something new?”

Having such conversations and offering such services is an impressive way to stand apart from your competition. Additionally, it can become a lucrative revenue stream. The study shows Big Data VARs will most likely start with project work, and evolve into “Big Data-as-a-Service,” not to mention that data discoveries could lead to new IT purchases and upgrades. With so much upside to Big Data for you and your customers, why isn’t it a part of your growth strategy?

The complete report is available at no cost to CompTIA members who can access the file at http://www.comptia.org/