There are countless stories of how big data helps organizations\u2014whether it\u2019s a matter of competitive advantage, driving innovations\u00a0or fueling the bottom line. IT leaders understand its significance. According to the recent CIO Survey, an astounding 72 percent of the respondents within the financial services sector alone believe that big data has a positive impact on their rate of innovation.\nAs big data grows within financial services, two primary types of data are taking center stage: on-grid and off-grid.\nBy definition, on-grid is all the data a bank has about its customers \u2014 all the insight it receives from them when they talk to the bank, whether it\u2019s in social media, web interactions or any other direct communication. However, off-grid data (representing 80 percent) is generated when customers talk about the bank without actually talking to the bank\u2014for instance, when a customer relates opinions on Reddit or in a chat room.\nHistorically, banks have analyzed on-grid data only \u2013 but, in doing so, they need to understand how bias influences the data.After all, if a customer is truly unhappy, that person\u2019s comments will be far more authentic in informal settings and when unsolicited or through informal channels.\nThe good news is that future opportunities are virtually limitless, especially in efforts to improve fraud detection and prevention\u2014a huge priority in the financial sector. For instance, consider the possible creation of a utility that aggregates information for analyzing the entire industry for trends and patterns in fraud. When a new attack or scam surfaces, the information will immediately be shared with every bank. That way we would no longer see three banks discovering the same problem, respectively, months apart and having to deploy individual solutions. Just the cost and time benefits of independent discovery would make creating such a utility well worth the effort. This applies an approach similar to that of antivirus software in computers \u2013 once identified, all relevant points are informed and can act to prevent damage.\nSimilar benefits exist on an individual bank basis. For instance, analyzing data from a customer panel takes months, but big data analysis can provide far more insightful results in mere hours. Using social media as an example, mass comments can be analyzed in a far more timely and relevant manner, using views expressed a few minutes ago to offer a far richer data set.\nAs with many of these next-generation technologies, the time to value and realization of a proof point are crucial. Success starts with a limited investment, answering a very specific question and doing it well. It\u2019s about demonstrating the outcome and what\u2019s possible. From there, organizations can build upon their successes by replicating efforts in other areas of need. Fortunately, proof points are relatively inexpensive, and can be used in conjunction with more traditional (and more commonly accepted) methods.\nOf course, big data has its challenges. The issue of leveraging the cloud to host or analyze data is a prime example. Financial institutions, in particular, are nervous about bringing data to the cloud as regulators continue to consider the impact of this not-so-new delivery model. And banks understandably prefer to err on the side of caution to avoid breaking future rules\u2014not to mention putting their most valuable data at risk. The second challenge is that big data actually requires data. Whether through social listening, leveraging legacy data or collecting from industry-specific sources, banks\u2019 ability to locate and extract the data into usable environments is key. Fortunately, unlike other industries, banks have far fewer challenges with the analytics component.\nBanks are making progress, including a recent uptick in the number of chief data officers. This is an important step, because it provides governance and establishes ownership. However, big data remains an untapped opportunity. Even though great examples exist, big data use within financial services isn\u2019t mainstream yet.