Big Data has the potential to help companies improve operations and make faster, more intelligent decisions. As such, Big Data initiatives are poised for explosive growth. But like any new technology, there are obstacles that might prevent companies from realizing the full benefits that Big Data can provide.
To better understand the business drivers, expected benefits, and challenges of Big Data, QuinStreet Enterprise conducted a survey of 540 decision-makers involved in Big Data purchases.
The survey found that:
- 77 percent of respondents consider Big Data analytics a priority
- 72 percent cite enhancing the speed and accuracy of business decisions as a top benefit of Big Data analytics
- 71 percent of mid-sized and large companies have plans for, or are currently involved with, Big Data initiatives.
However, even with this enthusiasm for Big Data and the expected benefits it might deliver, companies face numerous challenges in their Big Data efforts. Many are concerned about:
- Big Data project and management costs
- How to scale their infrastructures to accommodate the large volumes of data to be analyzed
- Overcoming data silos and application integration.
Click through for findings from a survey looking at the opportunities, challenges and implementation of Big Data, conducted by QuinStreet Enterprise.
How important is Big Data?
Many companies are interested in Big Data. That is no surprise. The survey found that a majority of respondents are not just mulling over how Big Data can help their companies, they consider Big Data to be a top priority. Overall, 77 percent of respondents feel that Big Data analytics is a priority for their organizations this year.
One point that stands out in our study is the large percent (57 percent) of mid-sized companies that rate Big Data analytics as a top/very high priority. This speaks to the competitive advantages organizations expect to get from their Big Data efforts.
Why Big Data is so important
So what is so important about Big Data to make it a top priority for so many companies? A quick look at the organizational benefits companies expect to reap from their Big Data efforts answers that question.
When asked to rate the value to an organization of using Big Data, top responses were focused on the improved and timely access to decision-making information. Seventy-four percent of the respondents said their Big Data efforts would make the information more transparent and more usable quickly. Seventy-two percent said Big Data would allow more accurate and timely decision-making.
Other organizational benefits at the top of the list included providing real-time access to data (65 percent), more timely integration of data (63 percent), quicker determination when changes needed to be made (63 percent), and automated decision-making (61 percent).
A majority of companies already are involved with Big Data efforts. The survey found that 71 percent of mid-sized and large companies are actively working on Big Data initiatives or have plans in the works. Those companies have either deployed, are in the process of deploying projects, are beta testing, or plan to begin a Big Data initiative within 12 months.
In contrast, only 29 percent of mid-sized and large companies are in the early stages. These companies are either investigating Big Data initiatives or have assigned a task force to look into an initiative.
A closer look at challenges
The survey tried to dig a layer deeper to provide insight into potential roadblocks that might cause companies to put off or not undertake Big Data efforts.
Dealing with large data volumes: One big concern, of course, is accommodating the “big” in Big Data. Almost half (46 percent) of the respondents said that their company was already managing 10TB of data or more for analytics in a typical month. And 21 percent of the respondents said they were managing 100TB or more per month.
Evolving thoughts on where data should be stored: As more companies explore Big Data analytics as a means to gain a competitive advantage or improve operations, there are some interesting shifts in where data is housed.
Addressing scalability of Big Data initiatives: As companies realize the benefits of initial Big Data projects, they naturally will want to expand their efforts. To scale such efforts and truly gain a competitive advantage, they will need to accommodate more data (of course), but in most cases they will need to expand the use of Big Data analytics to many more users.
A plethora of tools
Call it an embarrassment of riches, but one additional obstacle to achieving Big Data analytics nirvana is selecting the right tools from a very broad spectrum of solutions. Many elements go into a Big Data analytics effort. That fact was reflected in the diverse set of technologies survey respondents claimed they are using and plan to use.
About 44 percent said they were looking to use analytics databases. Following close behind at 41 percent were BI tools and relational databases. And more than a third of the respondents noted that they also use data warehouses, predictive analytics, data visualization tools, and discovery platforms.
A plethora of tools continued
There are three basic categories of suppliers including operational infrastructure and structured database providers, analytics and BI software suppliers, and analytics infrastructure and discover platform suppliers.
Currently, 70 percent of respondents are using an operational infrastructure and structured database supplier for their Big Data initiatives. About 55 percent are using analytics and BI solutions providers, and 31 percent are using analytics infrastructure and discovery platforms. (Some companies are relying on suppliers in more than one category.)
Organizations today have high expectations for the role Big Data will play in their future success. Through mining and analysis of Big Data, the goal is to quickly derive valuable insight to make faster, more intelligent decisions. This will give organizations a competitive edge that will allow them to grow the business, improve customer service, and increase revenues.
However, burgeoning data growth and variety of solutions that must be selected and seamlessly integrated, represent major challenges that IT and business managers must face today before their organizations can reap the benefits of Big Data analytics.