Big Data is plunging into a “trough of disillusionment” that will dissuade many companies from pursuing analytics technology, according to a Gartner analyst.
Gartner regularly updates what it terms the Hype Cycle, in which technologies progress from rising interest, to overexposure, to the Dante-style “trough of disillusionment,” and finally to eventual rehabilitation as productive and well-integrated technologies. Everything from cloud computing to media tablets goes through these stages; and now, according to Svetlana Sicular, Big Data is about to take the plunge into widespread disappointment and discontent.
Who’s responsible for shoving Big Data over that cliff? Users have apparently realized that dealing with massive datasets and complex analytical tools is hard. “My most advanced with Hadoop clients are also getting disillusioned,” Sicular wrote in a Jan. 22 blog posting on the Gartner Website. “Their disappointment applies to more advanced cases of sentiment analysis, which go beyond traditional vendor offerings.”
Those difficulties continue in new areas of analysis, she added, that “depend on factors that have been traditionally outside of their industry competence, e.g. linking a variety of unstructured data sources.”
In addition, companies apparently have trouble formulating the right questions for their complex data-analytics systems—there are simply too many possibilities, too many sub-questions, and too many ways to frame a Big Data situation the wrong way. “Validating answers is also a tough job,” she wrote. “Big data analytics deals with uncertainty: you do not deduct the number and say that the meaning of life is 42—you get a proof of your hypothesis with a certain degree of confidence.”
Only those companies of sufficient “analytical and enterprise information management maturity,” she added, will successfully navigate the coming dip in Big Data interest. Internal support for innovation won’t hurt, either.
Sicular’s analysis runs a bit contrary to other industry reporting. Both Forrester and Gartner have published reports suggesting that Big Data will contribute significantly to IT spending in 2013 and beyond. In early December, research firm IDC issued a note suggesting that investment in Big Data will grow to nearly $10 billion in 2013, and the need for more data analysts will continue to rise in coming years. Those aren’t exactly pessimistic predictions; increasingly disillusioned or no, it remains to be seen whether companies continue to support Big Data with their budgets.