The Interview: Alan Duncan, big data analyst at Gartner

26 Mar 2015

Pictured: Alan Duncan, analyst, Gartner

When it comes to big data there is no shortage of data, but there is a shortage of people who know what to do with all of that data. That’s the view of Gartner analyst Alan Duncan, an expert on big data and analytics.

“I think the challenge is not one of the technology, the challenge is people,” Duncan explained.

“The data is there as a means to help solve problems but you have to understand the type of problems associated with what you are doing.

“Sometimes we spend enough time thinking about what we are trying to achieve before we delve into the data,” Duncan said.

A recent report by Gartner found that 73pc of organisations have invested or plan to invest in big data over the next two years.

The survey also indicates organizations are starting to get off the fence about their big data investment — the number of organisations stating they had no plans for big data investment fell from 31pc in 2013 to 24pc in 2014. 

Getting the best out of your big data investment

In this environment, how can firms best plan to make the best use of their big data investment?

“I don’t think you can plan for every eventually but you have to be organizationally nimble, ready to adapt and ready to adopt.

“That is understanding what it is you are trying to achieve, recognising that sometimes that creativity and innovation are necessary and that means being also able to learn quickly, cheaply, find the things that are useful to your organisation and then go and engineer them.”

Duncan said that in the IT industry disciplines were always harnessed around structure, rigour and the delivery of solutions that are industrial strength and resilient.

“I think we are going through a phase now with the uptake of data and analytics that we need to get back to more experimental ways of working and using that innovation and creativity to make the choices we then choose to build into our business processes.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years