Two weeks ago, I had a conversation with some colleagues where I was postulating a future bull market for drones, as I envisioned a number of commercial applications (food service, surveillance, etc). Coincidentally, this topic has gained major momentum since Amazon’s disclosure of a drone R&D project for goods delivery on 60 Minutes this week. Suddenly, everyone has a drone idea, most of which do not solve any real problem nor serve a clear purpose. Amazon’s proposed use of drones is just another step in their long march towards the optimized (time and cost) delivery of goods.
I recently finished reading The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon. It's a detailed account of Amazon's emergence to date and provides countless lessons on product management, strategy, and how to treat clients. However, one recurring theme was their long-term focus on improving goods delivery. Starting from a single warehouse, to fulfillment centers, to fulfillment centers in almost all 50 states, to robotics for pick/pack, to now, apparently, drones. It's a singular focus on timely, efficient, and cost optimized delivery. So, what does this have to do with Big Data?
I believe the next major problem to be solved for Big Data is around the timely, efficient, and cost optimized delivery of insight. This requires the timely, efficient, and cost optimized delivery of data. Or more simply put, data provisioning.
As companies move towards a Big Data Architecture, delivering data to the right engine, at the right time, for the lowest cost becomes a necessity. And as long as Big Data is more than Hadoop, this will be a critical requirement.
I see companies evolving their architecture to this vision:
This diversity of capabilities is driven by one truth of enterprise technology: one size does not fit all. Clients have different workloads, needs, deliverables, and clients to serve. This reason alone is why Hadoop will not take over enterprise IT (as most companies that only focus on Hadoop postulate in a self-serving manner). Hadoop is and will be critical, but it will not be the only capability. Data provisioning (the drone of big data) is the differentiating capability to ensure an optimized (time and cost) delivery of insight. There is a substantial business opportunity in solving this problem.
One Bezos quote in the book is when he tells Tim O'Reilly, “We don’t have a single big advantage,so we have to weave a rope of many small advantages.”
This has certainly been our approach as we build out a big data platform to support our clients. Data provisioning is just one many small advantages.