Photograph by Getty Images
By Jonathan Vanian
July 6, 2015

It’s standard nowadays for companies to horde their data—whether it be sales, human resources, or some other type of business-related information—in the hope that they can analyze it and use it to make better business decisions.

But the process of analyzing data doesn’t come cheap, and companies of all sizes need to invest in the software that does the grunt work of crunching numbers. That’s why the market for big data software is expected to grow by 50% by 2019, according to new research issued by Ovum on Monday.

The report attributes the growing market to more companies adopting emerging data technologies like Hadoop, the open source and free big data framework that lets companies store data and use analytical tools to study the information.

Tom Pringle, the report’s co-author said in a statement that “The experimental era of big data is coming to an end,” and he cites the increasing amount of vendors selling commercial versions of Hadoop as evidence that the technology is catching on in the mainstream. Cloudera and Hortonworks (HDP) are just a few of the companies trying to make a viable business out of selling paid versions of Hadoop.

Of course, just because a company wants to invest in big data software, doesn’t mean it’s easy to glean amazing business insights overnight. While the Ovum report cites growing adoption of Hadoop as one reason for a growing big data market, a Gartner survey that came out in May showed that Hadoop still hasn’t quite become a top priority for many businesses. Gartner surveyed 284 companies and found that less than 50% of respondents adopted Hadoop or are considering doing so.

Companies seemed confused on how to actually use Hadoop, which typically requires Hadoop specialists who know how to set up and run many different types of software in the framework to get the best results. The Gartner report cited that many corporations perceive the complexity of running Hadoop infrastructure as too complicated to justify the costs.

Ovum’s report seems more optimistic than Gartner’s. It indicates that companies are more inclined to try out new software tools if they perceive it to be beneficial to their businesses. If these companies want to pass on Hadoop, maybe they will be willing to plunk down cash on the open-source Spark data framework, which many analysts say can help businesses process data faster than Hadoop.

One of the most interesting tidbits from the report is that data management software currently accounts for over 40% of total spend in big data technology in the United States, with 2015 seeing $15.85 billion. Cambridge, Mass-based Tamr specializes in this type of data cleaning technology, and it raised $25 million in June to help it build its business.

Data cleanup and management is much less sexy than data analytics, but Ovum researchers claim it currently makes up the largest part of the big data market and is expected to grow by 9% in 2019.

Companies aren’t just storing sales leads and the type of data that can easily fit into the rows and columns of a spreadsheet, but also unstructured data, which is more complex and often generated from sensors installed on connected devices like water heaters and manufacturing equipment.

If the Internet of things continues to grow, resulting on more companies generating enormous amounts of data, we could very see more businesses buying big data software like the Ovum report envisions. However, they may be spending the bulk of their funds managing all that data rather than actually getting any useful business insights.

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