"Big data is here, we just need to make sense of it", says Autonomy

By Peter Gothard
11 May 2012 View Comments

All data is valuable to firms, and should be kept for analysis, according to analysis firm Autonomy's chief architect Fernando Lucini.

Lucini was responding to Computing’s recent coverage of IT services firm Computacenter’s comments that big data doesn’t even exist yet, and much of the data harvested by firms today is irrelevent.

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“In emails alone people can run an entire company,” Lucini told Computing. “It’s the language that’s used for business – like a telephony system on paper. It’s immense. Put that together with the arbitrary information we exchange to do business every day, and none of that can be considered small.”

Lucini's view stands in stark contrast to comments made by Bill McGloin, practice leader in storage and data optimisation at Computacenter, who told Computing earlier this week: "I don't think we've really seen big data yet. I think in two, three or four years' time, then we'll start to see big data. I think what we think is big data just now is actually quite small, and not always of genuine business value."

Lucini argued that all information created and consumed by large groups of people has value.

“Nothing that a group of 1,000 people and above can create is small,” he said. “It is just not possible. You look at the way you create and consume information; you walk around with your mobile device. I’m totally dependent on mine. I create all kinds of things; I create business information, personal information; I create information. We’ve become machines of human information.”

Lucini also took McGloin to task for criticising companies that collect and store vast quantities of data that would often be “of no significant use to them”.

“Computacenter seems to imply that we’re hording machine data, and we don’t quite know what to do with it,” said Lucini.

“That seems to imply that big data is only the very large machine-generated data we’re getting from sensors under the middle of the ocean, and that the rest of the trillions and trillions of everyday business actions – from banks to retail to telephony – do not generate immense amounts of data that has an incredible amount of richness and value, and that is not being exploited right now. But in Autonomy’s world, we’re doing that, and have been for years,” he said.

Bought out by HP in 2011, Autonomy has 15 years’ experience in interpreting and applying information, claiming to use “meaning-based” intelligent technology to comb through data, rather than relying exclusively on human input.

“In future, mechanisms and tools have to be created to deal with data,” said Lucini. “But again to say to me ‘Well, I’m sitting on 50TB of bank data that’s just been stored and we don’t know what value to get out of it’, considering it’s the life and death of these organisations, doesn’t quite click right to me.

“At Autonomy, we focus more on making sense of this stuff and understanding it. The size is something that can be dealt with.” 

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