Interview: Survey from Dell Discovers Need for Big Data in Midmarket Companies

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Big Data has mostly been considered the realm of big enterprise and not the midmarket segment. Dell launched a survey to study this notion and discovered that midmarket companies not only need Big Data to engender better, more competitive business practices, but many are already using data analysis. We caught up with Darin Bartik, Executive Director and GM of Database Management at Dell, to learn more about the survey and its findings.

Darin Bartik

insideBIGDATA: Dell recently released a survey to gather better understanding of Big Data and the midmarket companies. What was the impetus behind this survey? 

Darin Bartik: Generally speaking, Big Data has been considered the domain of enterprise organizations and not necessarily a relevant challenge or opportunity for midmarket companies. While there have been numerous studies done on the impact of big data in enterprise organizations, few if any have looked exclusively at the prevalence of Big Data initiatives within the midmarket. We felt as though there was a need to fill this research gap, so we commissioned Competitive Edge Research Reports to conduct a global survey of midmarket executives to determine the drivers, prevalence and success of big data initiatives among midmarket organizations.

insideBIGDATA: In a broad sense, what did Dell find out about this market?

Darin Bartik: The survey revealed that contrary to the commonly held viewpoint that Big Data is a challenge and opportunity that pertains only to large, enterprise organizations, midmarket organizations are aggressively embracing Big Data projects, plan to continue heavily investing in them, and are reaping significant benefits when they do. Most notably, 96 percent of organizations surveyed are either already in flight with a Big Data initiative or plan to start one in the near future. We believe these findings again show why when it comes to Big Data, “big” is a relative term. Being an enterprise organization with large, complex data sets is not a prerequisite to benefiting from a data-driven mindset. When organizations of any size focus on improving the quality of their business processes by becoming more analytical and data-driven, the potential benefits are limitless.

insideBIGDATA: What are the biggest drivers for Big Data initiatives?

Darin Bartik: There are any number of reasons a company might undertake a Big Data project, but we’ve found time and again that the most successful ones are those that start with and are rooted in an effort to solve a relevant business question. Big Data first and foremost a business challenge, and the survey once again confirmed this, as the primary objectives midmarket organizations hoped to achieve as a result of their Big Data initiatives – improve product quality, seize business opportunities, and speed decision-making – are all business driven outcomes.

insideBIGDATA: Dell has mostly been known as a hardware company. When did the software side see a boost in interest and why?

Darin Bartik: For the past few years, Dell has moved aggressively to assemble an end-to-end portfolio of software solutions that address the most pressing challenges customers today face. The company saw a real need for scalable yet simple-to-use solutions that can increase productivity, responsiveness and efficiency, and has to put together a portfolio of offering that addresses those needs across five core solution areas: data center and cloud management, information management, mobile workforce management, security and data protection. When you combine the software solutions with Dell’s hardware and services, you get a really powerful combination.

insideBIGDATA: What does Dell offer by way of tools in the software arena to help midmarket organizations?

Darin Bartik: Dell Software has a strong focus on what we call midmarket design point. That is, on delivering solutions that are simple and affordable enough for midmarket organizations, but robust and scalable enough for large enterprises. Within the information management space specifically, we offer a solutions spanning the entire information management lifecycle, from database management and optimization, to application and data integration, to business analytics.

insideBIGDATA: What are the biggest challenges for data analysis in this particular market?

Darin Bartik: We once again saw in the survey that managing data complexity remains the most significant obstacle midmarket companies face with regard to their big data and data analytics initiatives. 64 percent of organizations were challenged with some form of data complexity. Frankly, that’s a challenge that pertains to companies of all sizes – the need to manage a wide variety of new data types distributed across the IT environment. That’s again why it’s so important to start these initiatives with a specific business question, so that you can identify the right data that you’ll need to connect to, and ensure that it’s accessible by the right people involved in a given analysis project.

insideBIGDATA: Dell looks to be going “all in” in this area, so the company must have something up its sleeve. What can we expect down the road?

Darin Bartik: You’re absolutely right in saying that we’re fully committed to this space, and to that end, we made a significant move last month when we acquired StatSoft, a leading provider of advanced analytics solutions. The addition of StatSoft adds a wide range of data mining, predictive analytics, data analysis, data management and data visualization capabilities to our portfolio. Going forward, we’ll be focused on integrating these capabilities with the others in our portfolio to provide customer a truly seamless, truly end-to-end data management experience.

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