Big Data Value in Japan, No Translation Necessary

Last week, I had the opportunity to present at the Gartner BI Summit in Tokyo. With knowledge of merely a handful of Japanese terms, I arrived in this beautiful country with mild heartburn that my presentation would be somehow misinterpreted and fall flat. The sessions were teeming with representatives from organizations across Japan eager to understand if Big Data was valuable or simply another passing technology fad.

Recently celebrating their 50th anniversary in the country, HP Japan was well represented at the event. My HP Vertica counterpart on the ground reinforced the need to emphasize business value, noting the growing demand for Big Data solutions from nearly every industry, particularly automotive, telecommunications, and railways/transportation. However, before technology decisions are made, Japan businesses want concrete evidence that they can either save money, make money, or differentiate from their competitors — not unlike businesses here in the states.

The title of my presentation was The New Economics of Enterprise Data Warehousing, based on a recently published research report from GigaOM. The general message is that traditional enterprise data warehouses cannot, and were never built to, handle the variety, volume, and velocity of Big Data — mainly because Big Data in its truest sense really didn’t exist back in the 80’s and 90’s when those systems were architected. Therefore, a new breed of big data analytics platforms (led by the HP Vertica Analytics Platform) emerged in the past few years that can handle these demands with extreme performance at massive scale, while enabling organizations to achieve true value at an overall lower TCO.

Heads nodded, followed by hushed side conversations in Japanese as attendees heard story after story on how leading organizations — Cardlytics, Guess, KDDI,, and even the Democratic National Committee — are deriving measurable business value and accomplishing the previously unimaginable with the HP Vertica Analytics Platform (including re-electing an American president).

I didn’t need the two translators (or my colleague) on hand to explain to me that the conference attendees were overall convinced that there is indeed value in all of the Big Data generated around them in Tokyo and other regions of Japan. I left the conference satisfied and amazed by these incredibly polite, organized, and astute people, with an understanding that business value is universally understood, despite the language.

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