Outlook 2013

Analytics: Big data takes center stage in 2013

Gauge

Data analytics generated all sorts of headlines in 2012, and experts believe the usual suspects — performance metrics and big data — will garner even more attention in 2013.

The PortfolioStat initiative, which the Office of Management and Budget launched in early 2012 to curb commodity IT spending, built on the successes of other OMB-led cost-cutting initiatives such as TechStat, which has saved the government about $4 billion since 2010, according to U.S. CIO Steven VanRoekel.

In October 2012, OMB promised $2.5 billion in commodity IT savings in the next three years as a direct result of PortfolioStat, and most federal policy experts believe the Obama administration will continue pushing the program as an IT governance function.

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“I think the PortfolioStat approach will continue,” said Mark Forman, former administrator of e-government and IT at OMB. “Whether it’s under PortfolioStat or under some other name, I think you have to have a governance process for identifying opportunities for shared services and commodity purchasing.”

Forman said oversight and economies of scale “seem to be at the heart of new congressional initiatives,” which could spur further activity by the executive branch.

In 2013, big data is likely to be the focal point of data analytics efforts. Rich Campbell, chief technologist at EMC Federal, said opportunities will abound for agencies to improve on the data they already have. He expects some agencies to hire data scientists and potentially chief data officers as big data transitions from a buzzword to an emerging technology that could push aside traditional database models.

More predictive analysis tools will be used in homeland security, health care, finance and law enforcement in response to the big-data movement, said Mark Cohn, chief technology officer at Unisys Federal Systems. He foresees technologies evolving “with much bigger systems and better performance around unstructured data.” “We will see a tenfold improvement with other approaches that go beyond Hadoop,” Cohn said.

Dante Ricci, director of federal innovation at SAP, said agencies will begin to unlock the value in their mammoth stores of data.

“For a while with big data, it was volume, velocity and variety, but now a lot of organizations are trying to marry those Vs with veracity and value,” Ricci said. “It’s not just about the data you have, it’s about getting something of value out of it.”

Aubrey Vaughan, managing director of the public sector at Oversight Systems, said agencies so far have only glimpsed the tip of the iceberg for big data’s potential, but added that outdated policies could act as roadblocks to new technologies that could ultimately save taxpayers billions in areas such as transactional analytics.

About the Author

Frank Konkel is a former staff writer for FCW.

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Reader comments

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 Girish Seshagiri United States

In God We Trust; Eveyrbody Else Bring Data

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