Just What Is Data?

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While I was preparing for a Netseminar a few weeks ago, it really hit me just how much unstructured information there is floating around.

Can be reached via e-mail at hclancy@cmp.com.

One figure that is put forth as conventional wisdom suggests as little as 10 percent to 15 percent of corporate data actually is housed in a database somewhere. And then, there’s XML.

I think it’s pretty safe to say XML is the language of business. As the consumption of Web services accelerates—according to IDC, revenue will hit $14.9 billion in 2009, up from $2.3 billion in 2004—the use of XML to facilitate transactions and information analysis is likewise exploding. A statistic from ZapThink estimates XML will account for 48 percent of corporate network traffic by 2008, compared with 15 percent in 2004; just four years ago, XML information made up about 2 percent of network traffic.

So, here’s my second question: Is the category of database management really morphing into something we should refer to as information management?
Of all the technology areas considered individually in the 2006 CRN Profitability Study, database management offered the largest average gross margin, 22.3 percent, as well as one of the highest customer growth rates of the past 12 months, 18.1 percent (second only to the VoIP segment). Considering databases are also one of the most mature categories, this seems to indicate that businesses and solution providers are starting to think differently.

Certainly, the midmarket forays of IBM, Oracle and Microsoft are to be credited as they have really started bringing enterprise technology potential to smaller companies.

But more than that, I think the explosion of CRM deployments—hosted or otherwise—has caused companies of all sizes to rethink how they manage information. Consider that CRM, custom Web services and business intelligence all demand a strong information management infrastructure underneath.
The database of old will never go away—we humans have this thing about holding onto legacy stuff. But the next wave of database management deployments will be less about accommodating predefined, static pods of data and more about handling the rapid interchange of rich, dynamic information.

What are your information needs? Write to HEATHER CLANCY, Editor at CRN, at hclancy@cmp.com.

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