Companies that ensure business units play a key role in the development of big data analytics solutions are more than twice as likely to be profitable as those managed solely by the IT department.

This is according to new research by Capgemini and Informatica, which found that currently, less than a third of big data initiatives (27 per cent) are profitable. A further 45 per cent are breaking even, while 12 per cent are said to be losing money.

The study noted the majority of organisations therefore still have significant work to do in order to see a return on investment, those that have strong support from the C-suite are in a much better position.

Almost half of organisations (49 per cent) that had high levels of executive buy-in reported that their initiatives were profitable, compared with just six per cent of companies that had no executive support.

John Brahim, head of Capgemini's Insights and Data Global Practice team, commented: "The study provides insights into those organisations that are realising positive business impact from their big data investments. The companies that are reaping benefits are embracing business ownership of big data which drives a step-change in performance."

The study also found a significant split between the US and Europe when it comes to taking ownership of big data analytics projects, with almost two-thirds of European firms (64 per cent) having their projects controlled by the CIO, compared with just 39 per cent in the US.

Capgemini noted that projects that are led by the chief operating officer are the most likely to be progressing effectively, while organisations that are turning a profit from their big data also tend to be those that are most effective at managing data governance and quality.

Three-quarters of profitable respondents stated they had made excellent or very good progress in improving data quality and data governance, compared to 50 per cent overall.

"The survey findings show a direct correlation between the use of data quality and governance practices and profitable outcomes from big data projects," stated Amit Walia, executive vice-president and chief product officer at Informatica. 

He added: "Achieving business value repeatedly and sustainably requires focusing investments around the three key pillars of data management: big data integration, big data quality and governance, and big data security."

Capgemini offered several recommendations for businesses that are looking to make the most of their big data initiatives. 

For instance, it stated it will be vital to get buy-in from the very top in order for projects to be successful. Anything below boardroom level will not be enough to effect lasting change.

It also advised businesses to modernise their data warehousing systems and create a "robust, collaborative data governance framework" that enables organisations to react quickly, while also ensuring data security and data quality.