On the surface, you’d think Big Data has established itself as a popular and winning proposition for businesses. Consider these recent research findings:
- Innovative companies are three times as likely to rely on Big Data analytics and data mining than their less-innovative peers. — The Boston Consulting Group’s study, “The Most Innovative Companies 2014: Breaking Through Is Hard to Do.”
- Nine out of 10 CXOs are happy with Big Data’s business outcomes and 59 percent of executives at companies using Big Data say it’s extremely important. — Accenture Analytics.
- Sixty-seven percent of companies now have Big Data projects running in production, compared to 32 percent last year. Of those, 82 percent said Big Data is already integrated into the mainstream of their organization. — NewVantage Partners survey.
By all accounts, Big Data initiatives would seem successful and on the way to becoming established business practice.
But Big Data’s disappointments are in the details: For example, those innovative companies that love Big Data? Most are high-tech companies that practically invented Big Data, such as Apple, Google, Microsoft, IBM, Amazon and Facebook.
When it comes to actually investing in Big Data to further innovation, Forbes reports that only 41 percent of the companies surveyed by the BCG actually are targeting Big Data as part of their innovation programs. For the most part, only companies in technology, technology services and insurance are investing in Big Data as an innovation tool and anticipating a significant impact within three to five years. Most industries tended to cluster along the “targeting, expecting less” area with Big Data.
Those nine out of 10 happy CXOs? They’re all at enterprises with annual revenue of over $10 million.
Overall, these types of statistics may be overselling how difficult Big Data is, warns a recent Silicon Angle article. The piece cites another Big Data survey by Wikibon, which shows a much grittier reality about Big Data investments.
Wikibon found that so far, the average project return on Big Data analytics is just 55 cents for every dollar invested. While it’s true there are some amazing transformations with Big Data, and expectations are still high for better returns in the near future (3-5 years), the article warns that it’s not as easy as the upbeat market surveys would lead you to believe.
Another downer finding from Wikibon: A higher number of those in IT say their Big Data trials have been successful than business users, who tend to judge Big Data trials as failures. Wikibon analyst Jeff Kelly told Silicon Angle that this is because IT and business users have different criteria for success. For IT, Big Data success means the tools are working, whereas for the business, Big Data success only counts if it leads to real business value and insight.
Oops. That sounds like we’re back on that old maxim, IT/business alignment, again. That would certainly explain why 88 percent of the Fortune 1000 leaders surveyed by New Vantage cited the importance of a strong business/IT partnership in Big Data success, while only 4 percent cited technology selections.
Loraine Lawson is a veteran technology reporter and blogger. She currently writes the Integration blog for IT Business Edge, which covers all aspects of integration technology, including data governance and best practices. She has also covered IT/Business Alignment and IT Security for IT Business Edge. Before becoming a freelance writer, Lawson worked at TechRepublic as a site editor and writer, covering mobile, IT management, IT security and other technology trends. Previously, she was a webmaster at the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and a newspaper journalist. Follow Lawson at Google+ and on Twitter.