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IT Briefcase Exclusive Interview: Enhancing Big Data Capabilities with Bill Franks, Teradata

January 23, 2013 No Comments

There is no question that Big Data offers many wonderful advantages to enterprises today.

In the below interview, Bill Franks from Teradata offers expert advice for companies looking to utilize data in new and creative ways and maximize business value.

  • Q. How do you see Big Data transforming the way people view data management today?

A. It’s never been just about the type of data being managed – what’s always been more important is the analysis of the information. The ability to analyze new data types, whether it is text data from social media sources or machine generated data, has forced organizations to examine the processes and systems being used to manage and analyze their data.

There is a big push to not only make more data available to larger audiences, but to allow a wider range of analytics against that data. This means that organizations are not only struggling with the capture and storage of more data than they are used to, but they are also struggling with how to enable users to do more and deeper analytics at the same time. Over time, the idea that the use of data should be fully controlled by centralized teams will give way to the idea that centralized teams need to provide access to the data broadly and let more users have the freedom to analyze it as they wish.

  • Q. What are the biggest challenges that arise when organizations jump on the “Big Data bandwagon” before they are ready?

A. One of the worst mistakes I see made is for an organization to throw a lot of resources behind a big data analytics initiative without taking the time to build that data into the overall enterprise data and analytics strategies. By making the pursuit of these new data sources something distinct, thought isn’t given from the start about how to plug it and the right processes into the organization’s overall architecture. This will lead to issues down the road. It is important to start with the view that data from any source is still just data and analytics with that data is still just analytics. There are some unique challenges, to be sure, but you can’t overlook those fundamental facts. Making efforts to acquire and analyze new data a totally separate initiative is an error many companies are making.

  • Q. What advice can you offer to businesses trying to overcome current Big Data challenges?

A. Be sure to consider the organizational, political, and skills issues and not just the technological issues. The fact is that at least 90% of the data needs of at least 90% of companies can be handled with the tools and technologies available today. The technology isn’t the biggest challenge that will be faced. The harder part will be ushering in the organizational changes required. Simply purchasing and deploying new tools and technologies is just the starting point. An organization that thinks it will be the end point will struggle to succeed.

  • Q. How can  the combined capabilities of the Teradata Aster SQL-MapReduce Platform and Teradata’s Unified Data Architecture help organizations safely and effectively maximize the benefits Big Data has to offer?

A. Teradata has been the leader in large scale data warehousing for decades. Given our experience in enabling the analysis of massive data volumes, it should be no surprise that we are maintaining our leadership by expanding our foundation to accommodate big data analytics.

Our Aster Discovery platform has a patented integration of both a relational, SQL-based database and a MapReduce framework on a single system within a single environment. It makes it possible to explore any data type and to mix data of all types to find the value hidden within it.  This is a powerful combination. We also recently announced the Aster Big Analytics appliance which combines Aster and Hadoop in a single cabinet that Teradata will fully support. Of course, all of that can be easily connected to our Teradata platform family to support enterprise scale deployment. We are truly enabling organizations to drive value from big data.

  • Q. Where do you see Big Data heading in 2013?

A. My main prediction for 2013 is that the bubble will deflate a bit. This is good because too much hype is never a good thing. When organizations start to think there are magic “easy buttons” or one-size-fits-all technologies, it is easy to underestimate the effort required and to overestimate the speed of success. As more sober views take over, I believe that companies will begin to jump into big analytics in a more disciplined, strategic fashion rather than just hopping on the bandwagon as fast as they can. This will be a good thing for all. It has to happen if the use of these new data sources is to mature and enter the mainstream.

Bill Franks

Bill Franks is Chief Analytics Officer for Teradata’s global alliance programs, providing insight on trends in the Advanced Analytics space and helping clients understand how Teradata and its analytic partners can support their efforts.  In addition, Bill is a faculty member of the International Institute for Analytics and the author of the book Taming The Big Data Tidal Wave (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., April, 2012).  He is also an active speaker and blogger.  Bill’s focus has always been to help translate complex analytics into terms that business users can understand and to then help an organization implement the results effectively within their processes.  His work has spanned clients in a variety of industries for companies ranging in size from Fortune 100 companies to small non-profit organizations.  You can learn more about Bill at

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