Trying to get value out of big data today is like creating an online store in the early days of e-commerce, said Walmart's Rajaraman, who helped develop Amazon.com's marketplace business. Amazon had to invent its own systems for payment, fraud detection and other tasks, each of which later spawned independent vendors that specialize in each area, he said.
It's important for an enterprise to understand the implications of big data and how the new tools work before embarking on a big-data initiative, panelists warned.
"Those who are just standing up Hadoop as is, with no management framework, writing directly to it ... there's going to be some real disillusionment there," said Keith Collins, senior vice president and chief technology officer of SAS.
Big-data tools such as Hadoop can't create value out of information by themselves, Collins warned in an interview at the event. Enterprises have to know what they want to find out from their data and then deal with how to get that out of their data. "The data issues come after the question," he said.