Big Data and mobile devices can seem like natural enemies in
the wild at first glance. However, today’s current generation tablets, especially the iPad with its Retina display and ever-growing processor and
memory specifications, make it possible for mobile workers to use Wi-Fi or 4G-connected tablets as dashboard front ends to tap into Big Data residing in the
cloud or on backend servers.

“We shouldn’t underestimate the new opportunities forged
from Big Data and mobile. It’s not just that customers are taking charge,
demanding companies provide them a truly personalized service,” says Gabriel Hopkins, a senior director at FICO. “It’s not just that companies now
have more data and better tools to make sense of that data than ever before,
enabling them to engage better and more profitably with their customers.”

“We’re seeing wholly new paradigms and types of interaction,
across a wide variety of industries,” adds Hopkins. “Doctors can monitor
patients. Banks can connect with customers to resolve issues and avoid
inconvenience in real time. Decades-old paradigms are changing to the benefit
of consumers and switched-on enterprises.”

I spent some time recently examining Big Data on mobile
devices, and here’s what I found.

Big Data and tablet use cases

Corporate and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) tablets can play
an important role as a data collection and reporting end point for Big Data. In
fact, the combination can save the IT department from having to run reports on
corporate data at every request, because now reports can be canned for users and
run from their tablet with a few taps. The use cases for Big Data and mobile
devices run the gamut from mundane business operations to the sensors of the
“Internet of Things.”

“The Big Data use cases of tomorrow go way beyond
the data center,” says Sara Gardner, senior director software product marketing for Hitachi Data Systems. “Analytics going where
no data center app has gone
before and to consumers who are not your traditional Business Intelligence
users — think power plant workers, doctors, railway engineers for
example. Mobile delivery is needed to get the right information into the
right hands at the right time, and new classes of visualization apps are required to
ensure the information is readily consumable.”

“A great example is in how Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) and Penske Racing collaborate to win races,” relates
Gardner. “There are 200+ sensors in the Penske race cars and the data generated, combined with the data harvested from track sensors, provides race car drivers with critical insight into their race
performance. Immediate feedback and easy consumption is key. That data is delivered to
them both during and after the race through mobile tablet and embedded display
in the car steering wheel.”

“The Internet of Things will generate an astronomical amount
of data,” says Gardner. “It
won’t make sense to pull every byte back into the datacenter. Smart ingest at the edge will be
required. Intelligent filtering and analysis embedded in the very fabric
of the machines and infrastructure generating the data will be required to meet the scale and velocity

Evolution in technology or marketing?

Never before in writing a TechRepublic post did I come
across so many mixed reactions amongst potential sources when researching the
topic of deploying Big Data apps to mobile devices. This caused me to take a
few steps back.

However, when I spoke to Dwight DeVera, senior vice
president of Arcplan, a business intelligence and Big Data platform vendor, he
was quick to blame PR and marketing people for trying to
channel the hype around mobility and Big Data. This matches with some of the
other writing I’ve done for TechRepublic about technology marketing perpetuating Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (FUD) surrounding Big Data (not to mention
other technology trends). The convergence of mobility and Big Data could indeed
be ground zero, where marketing and PR messages obfuscate the solution.

According to DeVera, “I’ve been doing a lot of talking with our customers. We
are moving to this world of what I call a mobile first strategy. Sales of
tablets are exceeding PC sales.”

People + Big Data + mobility

When looking at this company’s technology, DeVera is confident
that mobile Big Data can be done. I’m also seeing other players like Roambi who are putting together the tools to do Big Data.

“The problem is the people,” says DeVera. “Making Big
Data available on mobile devices will be more of a change management
exercise than
anything. We, as vendors, contributed to this problem, because the
#1 feature out of all the vendors is the ability to export to Excel.”

DeVera points out, “As a community of vendors, we have
failed to kick users off their download data habit, and that is something that
is 100% incompatible with the mobile tablet world.”

“The second problem is we created the what I call ‘the
mythical tablet experience,’” adds DeVera. “Anything I do on my iPad has be
instantaneous and, by the way, it has to be this new cool experience. The way to
make an iPad experience terrible is having to scroll through multiple pages.”

“The problem is Mr. or Ms. business user is hooked on
the data. It’s like a habit they can’t get rid of. The technologists are fixing
this,” assures DeVera.


The convergence of mobility and Big Data is still emerging, with mainstream use cases beginning to overtake the niche use cases as
connectivity, application architecture, and other technology factors evolve.
However, people need to evolve with the technology in order for Big Data on
mobile devices to reach its potential as a business solution and productivity