Midmarket companies aggressively embracing big data: Dell survey

  • 96% in flight with existing project, or plan to start one in the near term
  • Budgets for such projects to rise to an average of US$6mil in next 2yrs
Midmarket companies aggressively embracing big data: Dell survey

BIG data has been considered the domain of enterprise organisations and not necessarily a relevant challenge or opportunity for midmarket companies. A Dell Software survey of big data initiatives in the midmarket, however, reveals just the opposite.
Big data initiatives, enabled by new analytics tools and strengthening ties between business and IT leaders, are helping midsize organizations achieve the improved product quality and decision -making once reserved for large enterprises, Dell Software said in a statement.
To find out what drives midmarket adoption of big data projects, Dell Software commissioned Competitive Edge Research Reports to conduct a global survey of midmarket executives.
Competitive Edge Research surveyed 300 IT decision-makers in midmarket organisations across the globe. Respondents were made up of a cross-section of director-, manager-, vice president- or C-level executives, with a mixture of both IT and line of business roles. Midmarket was defined as organisations have between 2,000 and 5,000 employees.
The survey took place in November 2013 across the United States, EMEA (Europe/ Middle East/ Africa), and Asia Pacific regions. Both the private and public sectors were interviewed.
Focused exclusively on midmarket organisations, the survey indicates that big data projects have made a significant shift from their enterprise roots, and have become a critical decision-making factor for midmarket companies across the globe.
Survey findings also show midmarket organisations today overwhelmingly believe in the potential of big data projects to help them solve tangible business problems, and they are backing up that belief with action, Dell Software said.
Big data initiatives in the midmarket

Midmarket companies aggressively embracing big data: Dell survey

The survey’s most significant finding is that 41% of respondents have one or more big data projects already in place, with another 55% planning to start one the foreseeable future.
Further results show that more midmarket firms plan to use big data analysis to grow their businesses, rather than just find ways to cut costs.
Additional findings include:

  • 80% of survey respondents agree that they need to better analyse their rapidly expanding data collections. Among their top goals: Improve product quality, seize business opportunities and speed decision-making.
  • 89% of respondents with a big data initiative in progress report significant improvements in company decision making.
  • Encouraged by early success, respondents expect big data budgets to rise from between US$2 million and US$5 million up to an average of US$6 million in the next two years as companies invest more in hardware, software and training.
  • The biggest drivers of big data project success are IT/business collaboration, proper skills, and performance management to gauge the effects of big data initiatives.
  • The most influential departments in big data projects are IT and sales/marketing.
  • The most valuable technologies for midmarket companies running big data initiatives are real-time data processing, predictive analytics and data visualisation tools.

A host of key drivers are pushing midmarket companies to embrace and invest in big data initiatives, Dell Software said.
Survey respondents’ report that their top three project goals are to provide better quality products and services, take advantage of new business opportunities, and improve the quality and speed of decision-making.
Those goals are followed closely by gaining a better understanding of customer needs, having the ability to respond quickly to competitive threats, and improving the effectiveness of their marketing programmes.

Midmarket companies aggressively embracing big data: Dell survey

Immediate impact
Although many midmarket companies are just now getting started with big data projects, the early results show those projects have had an immediate and overwhelmingly positive impact on their organisation’s productivity and success.
According to the survey, organisations with big data projects in flight report far greater levels of satisfaction with productivity and decision making than those still in the planning phase.
For example:

  • 50% of organisations with a big data initiative in flight are satisfied with the quality and speed of their decision making, compared with just 23% among those yet to kick off a big data project.
  • 49% of organisations with a big data project in progress are satisfied with their ability to improve product quality, compared with just 32% of those still in the planning phase.
  • 47% of organisations in production with a big data initiative are satisfied with their ability to identify and take advantage of new business opportunities, compared with 24% of those organisations whose initial big data project is still in development.

Key success factors
A well-known but often-ignored best practice for big data projects among enterprise organisations, collaboration between IT and business units is the most often cited prerequisite of midmarket project success documented in the Dell survey, with 41% of respondents indicating that strong cooperation between the two groups is needed in order for an initiative to succeed.
Other commonly cited success factors include:

  • A strong connection between data analytics and performance management in the organisation, cited by 37% of respondents.
  • The availability of required skills – such as those possessed by data scientists – within the organisation, cited by 33% of respondents.
  • The documentation of complete and accurate business requirements, cited by 32% of respondents.  

Room to grow
While the early results have been stellar for the majority of organisations, there still is room for growth, Dell Software said.
Managing data complexity remains the most significant obstacle midmarket companies face as they look to fully embrace the potential benefits of a data-driven approach.
According to the survey, 40% of organisations consider the need to manage a wide variety of new data types and structures to be a significant challenge, while 24% are similarly challenged by what they perceive to be a lack of easy-to-use, cost-effective data cleansing tools.
In addition, most midmarket organisations still have not yet incorporated social media and other big data sources into their analytics mix, meaning a potentially significant source of analytic insight remains largely untapped.
While the cost and complexity of the required technology have kept some areas of opportunity as yet unexplored, technology keeps improving and budgets for big data-related projects are on the rise.
The Dell survey results show there is no reason midmarket organisations can’t benefit from better analysis of their data, and more importantly, they now know it.

Midmarket companies aggressively embracing big data: Dell survey

“Dell’s survey shows once again why ‘big’ data is relative term,” said Darin Bartik, executive director, product management, information management, Dell Software.
“Being an enterprise organisation with large, complex data sets is not a prerequisite to benefiting from a data-driven mindset. When organisations of any size focus on improving the quality of their business processes by becoming more analytical and data-driven, the potential benefits are limitless.
“The early success midmarket companies are seeing with their big data initiatives will encourage more growth and investment, and additional returns on that investment will be achieved as they dive further into different datasets and embrace ever-improving analytic capabilities,” he said.
To download a copy of the report, click here.
Related Stories:
Big data hype slowly but surely melting away
As big data grows, so does the confusion it brings: Forrester
Big data benefits recognised in Asia but potential untapped: EIU study
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