Ensuring the security of information, being clear on the data governance of business intelligence assets and looking to innovate will be among the key challenges facing companies that are looking to expand their big data analytics activities this year.

These were among the key themes that emerged from a recent roundtable discussion hosted by Rackspace, which saw representatives from some of the industry's biggest names offer their opinions on the subject.

Mat Keep, principal marketing manager at NoSQL database creator MongoDB was one of the participants to highlight security issues, V3 reports. He noted that as many of the services necessary to support data analytics projects are now being delivered via cloud computing, issues surrounding data governance of customer information will come to the fore.

Mr Keep added that while the cloud provides a simple way for firms to pilot big data projects, they frequently find that when these solutions are expanded across the organization, "the governance people start to get involved and insist that everything meets compliance regulations".

This is an area where many of the latest big data tools are still relatively immature when compared with traditional data management systems, which he noted have developed strong governance and auditing controls over the past few decades. By comparison, many of the options available for new big data are still rather crude.

However, the panelists agreed that despite these challenges, big data is set for a transformative year in 2014 as more firms recognize how they can adopt such strategies and use them to their advantage.

John Glendenning, vice-president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at DataStax, observed: "That train is now starting to leave the station. More and more services will be customer driven and interact with us, and the successful ones will be those that make our lives easier."  

He added that there will be winners and losers in this new landscape, with the most successful companies being those that are able to adapt their business model to cope with this more customer-centric, data-driven environment. 

Those that do not do this will be in serious danger, Mr Glendenning said. He cited video rental store Blockbuster as a prime example of this after it failed to keep up with more innovative rivals such as Netflix, which relies heavily on big data analytics to manage its recommendation algorithms.