Most organisations now have big data plans: Gartner survey

  • 73% have invested or plan to invest in big data in next 2yrs
  • Business priorities continue to revolve around customer experience
Most organisations now have big data plans: Gartner survey

INVESTMENT in big data technologies continues to expand, according to a recent survey by Gartner Inc which found that 73% of respondents have invested or plan to invest in big data in the next 24 months, up from 64% in 2013.
The survey also indicates organisations are starting to get off the fence about their big data investment. The number saying they had no plans for big data investment fell from 31% in 2013 to 24% in 2014, Gartner said in a statement.
The Gartner survey of 302 Gartner Research Circle members worldwide, which was conducted in June 2014, was designed to explore organisations’ technology investment plans relating to big data, stages of big data adoption, business problems solved, data, technology and challenges, and compared the results with those from previous years.
“Big data investment continues to be led by North America, with 47% of organisations reporting investment, up from 37.8% in 2013,” said Nick Heudecker, research director at Gartner.
“On the other hand, Asia Pacific reported an increased investment in big data of about 35% indicating that organisations are evolving in terms of their understanding and willingness to explore big data opportunities.
“All other regions experienced increases in investment over the last year,” he added.
However, this increased investment has not led to an associated increase in organisations reporting deployed big data projects. Like 2013, much of the work today revolves around strategy development and the creation of pilots and experimental projects.
“Last year, we said 2013 was big data's year of experimentation and early deployment,” said Heudecker.
“So is 2014. In 2013, only 8% of organisations reported having big data projects deployed to production. This has increased to 13% in 2014, and while still relatively small, represents a sizeable increase.
“However, the 6% drop in organizations still gathering knowledge about big data and the 7% increase in pilots and experiments indicate that organisations are exploring big data opportunities,” he added.
Most organisations now have big data plans: Gartner surveyMeanwhile, Gartner research director Lisa Kart (pic) noted that, “Big data can help address a wide range of business problems across many industries and for the third year in our study, both enhancing the customer experience and improving process efficiency are the top areas to address.
“The most dramatic changes are in enhancing customer experience, especially in transportation, healthcare, insurance, media and communications, retail, and banking.
“Another area where we see an increase is using big data to develop information products, where organisations are looking to monetise their data. This is especially true among IT vendors, government and manufacturing,” she said.
Gartner continues to see strong investments and planned investments across all vertical industries. Communications and media continue to lead the pack with 53% of organisations surveyed having already invested and a further 33% planning investments in big data technology.
Adoption challenges
The other year-to-year changes in the survey findings are a function of the adoption stage. As organisations move beyond knowledge gathering and developing a strategy to making investments, piloting and deploying, the challenges they face become more practical, Gartner said.
Those with no big data plans feel the big hurdles are determining how to get value from big data, defining a strategy, leadership or organisational issue, and even still trying to understand what big data is.
In the planning stages, beyond determining value, the top challenges are obtaining skills and capabilities needed, defining strategy, obtaining funding, and beginning to think about infrastructure issues.
Companies that are further along with investments must begin to address risk and governance issues, data integration and infrastructure, the analyst firm said.
When it comes to the volume, variety and velocity aspects of big data, volume received most of the focus.
Increasing data volume is easily understandable: You’re getting the same data you had before, but at massive scale. Volume is also the easiest to deal with by increasing storage and compute capacity, Gartner said.
On the other hand, data variety is far more challenging. Getting value from a variety of data sources, such as social media feeds, machine and sensor data, as well as free-form text, requires not only increased storage capacity, but also different tools and the skills to use them.
The challenges introduced by analysing a variety of data sources may explain why most organisations are studying traditional data sources for their big data projects.
Those organisations analysing transactions increased from 70% in 2013 to 79% in 2014, while those analysing log data fell slightly by 2%.
Interestingly, both types of social media data sources – profiles and interactions – fell over the last year, which may be caused by the difficulty in integrating social media data sources with other types of data, such as transactions, Gartner said.
“We got a surprising result when we asked respondents which data sources they planned on adding in the future,” said Heudecker.
“Every data source received roughly 30% to 40% of responses, including extremely challenging data sources like audio and video.
“This overly optimistic and apparently random nature of future data sources for analysis indicates two things: First, organisations don’t have a plan for what they’re going to do next. Picking everything isn’t a strategy. It indicates a fear of missing out on an opportunity yet to be defined.
“Also, there may be a certain amount of hubris at work. If organisations can ‘do big data’ on transactions and log data, they may assume they can also leverage more challenging data sources as easily,” he added.
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