DBTA Data Summit Day 2: Big Data Strategy Means Finding the Right Tools for the Right Job

While legacy data techniques fall short, new technology is emerging to help business tackle the challenges, Burke said, touting HP Autonomy's IDOL technology. HP Autonomy's IDOL deciphers human interactions through adaptive techniques that provide continuous learning based on context, probabilistic techniques capable of understanding the subtlety of the real world at scale, conceptual techniques that inform the importance of patterns found in data, and proprietary modeling tools that are automatic, fast, and data agnostic, according to Burke.

"HP IDOL is basically the OS for human interaction," he said. "It's got the strength and ability to connect to hundreds of repositories of data, track sentiment, and apply functions to expand past analytics and do other things, like build communities," he added.

Though new technology is helping companies pinpoint and solve problems associated with big data, unsolved issues persist, particularly in e-commerce, speakers agreed. A canonical e-commerce pain point, shopping carts are an interesting case study for demonstrating the evolution of the data dilemma, Tom Santero, director of evangelism at Basho Technologies, a provider of distributed database software technology, explained.

"In the past, shopping carts presented a major problem because if you looked at a company like Amazon, you had tons of concurrent users putting items into a cart and it would simply set the entire technology stack on fire," he said. To eliminate the burden on one stack, shopping carts eventually became hosted as shared session states, which essentially solved the problem. "Now it's all about finding a way to effectively take data from the shopping cart and do analytics over it to improve sales and decrease abandonment," he added.

Still in its buzz phase, big data has yet to reach its full potential. As the space continues to grow, however, company executives should avoid getting caught up in the hype, conference presenters agreed. They should instead, Santero urged, focus on "finding the right tool for the right job."

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