Gartner reported in September 2014 that 73% of respondents in a third quarter 2014 survey had already invested or planned to invest in big data in the next 24 months. This was an increase from 64% in 2013.

The big data surge has fueled the adoption of Hadoop and other big data batch processing engines, but it is also moving beyond batch and into a real-time big data analytics approach.

Organizations want real-time big data and analytics capability because of an emerging need for big data that can be immediately actionable in business decisions. An example is the use of big data in online advertising, which immediately personalizes ads for viewers when they visit websites based on their customer profiles that big data analytics have captured.

“Customers now expect personalization when they visit websites,” said Jeff Kelley, a big data analytics analyst from Wikibon, a big data research and analytics company. “There are also other real-time big data needs in specific industry verticals that want real-time analytics capabilities.”

The financial services industry is a prime example. “Financial institutions want to cut down on fraud, and they also want to provide excellent service to their customers,” said Kelley. “Several years ago, if a customer tried to use his debit card in another country, he was often denied because of fears of fraud in the system processing the transaction. Now these systems better understand each customer’s habits and the places that he is likely to travel to, so they do a better job at preventing fraud, but also at enabling customers to use their debit cards without these cards being locked down for use when they travel abroad.”

Kelly believes that in the longer term this ability to apply real-time analytics to business problems will grow as the Internet of Things (IoT) becomes a bigger factor in daily life.

“The Internet of Things will enable sensor tacking of consumer type products in businesses and homes,” he said. “You will be collect and analyze data from various pieces of equipment and appliances and optimize performance.”

The process of harnessing IoT data is highly complex, and companies like GE are now investigating the possibilities. If this IoT data can be captured in real time and acted upon, preventive maintenance analytics can be developed to preempt performance problems on equipment and appliances, and it might also be possible for companies to deliver more rigorous sets of service level agreements (SLAs) to their customers.

Kelly is excited at the prospects, but he also cautions that companies have to change the way they view themselves and their data to get the most out of IoT advancement.

“There is a fundamental change of mindset,” he explained, “and it will require different ways of approaching application development and how you look at the business. For example, a company might have to redefine itself from thinking that it only makes ‘makes trains,’ to a company that also ‘services trains with data.'”

The service element, warranties, service contracts, how you interact with the customer, and what you learn from these customer interactions that could be forwarded into predictive selling are all areas that companies might need to rethink and realign in their business as more IoT analytics come online. The end result could be a reformation of customer relationship management (CRM) to a strictly customer-centric model that takes into account every aspect of the customer’s “life cycle” with the company — from initial product purchases, to servicing, to end of product life considerations and a new beginning of the sales cycle.

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