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This IDC Health Insights Perspective highlights the author's insights on specific results from IDC's Global Technology and Industry Research Organization IT Survey, fielded in February–March 2012. In reviewing data from the life science industry subsegment, it was clear that results from the survey that focused on "big data" reflect the ongoing industry transformation, combined with rapid scientific and technological advances being made at the same time. While big data discussions typically focus on the unprecedented volumes of new data that will be generated, the issue in the life science industry is further complicated by new sources and types of data that will need to be accommodated and integrated into big data analyses.
Building on our understanding of the changing dynamics that IT organizations within the life science industry face today, it is clear that the survey results reflect the maturity of different big data sources and their impact on the business. In those cases where big data solutions deliver near-term value today, investments are being made now. In other areas that are expected to become major big data contributors in the future (e.g., genomics), there remains significant uncertainty as to what IT organizations should do now. It is clear to this author that an effective big data strategy in the life science is necessary and will need to be built around a solid foundational understanding of the specific big data involved, combined with a unambiguous value/ROI that is clearly understood across the organization.