Big Data a Big Deal: 64% Have Plans

Gartner survey finds a lot of interest around Big Data projects, but most companies are still in early days and in need of help.

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Big Data continues to gain steam, and a new study from Gartner suggests that nearly two thirds of organizations either have invested in Big Data analysis or plan to invest over the next two years.

Gartner’s study of 720 of its research customers worldwide shows that 64 percent of organizations asked have invested in Big Data projects or plan to do so in the near future. Of that group, nearly half (30 percent overall) have already made investments. Another 19 percent expect to invest next year, and by the end of 2015, another 15 percent expect to be engaged in Big Data projects.

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"The hype around Big Data continues to drive increased investment and attention, but there is real substance behind the hype," said Lisa Kart, research director at Gartner. "Our survey underlines the fact that organizations across industries and geographies see 'opportunity' and real business value rather than the 'smoke and mirrors' with which hypes usually come."

Among those who have invested, the majority organizations are in the early days of “experimentation and early deployment,” said Frank Buytendijk, research vice president at Gartner. Less than eight percent report they are fully deployed, while 20 percent are piloting and experimenting with Big Data, 18 percent are developing their strategy, and 19 percent are still knowledge gathering, indicating that moving to full blown deployment is still a way off.

As understanding of the topic matures, the research firm notes that the challenges organizations are facing also change. Last year, issues around data governance were seen as the number-one challenge businesses face. Today, the single biggest change customers report is figuring out how to get actionable knowledge from the data they’ve collected, followed by issues around defining a strategy and finding the right skills in the market.

This lack of skills points to an opportunity for solution providers to develop their own analytics practices, or to partner with those with deep business process outsourcing or other business consulting services to deliver a “full stack” solution around Big Data, including the technology to store, gather, and sort data, and the software, methodologies, and skills to gain actionable knowledge from that collected data.

Enhancing customer experience is the biggest driver for projects around Big Data, narrowly beating out business process efficiency, although both are the priority of close to half of those who have invested in the technology, at 55 percent and 49 percent respectively.

Gartner’s study finds that media and communications, banking, and services are the top fields undergoing or considering Big Data projects, but finds that other fields including transportation, healthcare, and insurance intend to jump on the bandwagon over the next year.

While the level of knowledge around Big Data is generally increasing, there are still some basic understanding solution providers can provide for customers. Even among Gartner customers, which tend to be companies with larger, more forward-thinking internal IT departments, the very basic element of defining and understanding Big Data remains the top challenge for 15 percent of organizations. This number is likely to expand greatly as solution providers move into the midmarket and SMB space, where awareness is building but the knowledge of how to make Big Data work for a smaller business is lacking.

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