Worries about the privacy and security of information is the biggest hurdle businesses have to overcome when implementing big data analytics strategies, according to a new survey.

Research conducted by Forrester on behalf of Xerox revealed that senior decision-makers in large enterprises have placed big data as their top IT priority for 2015, with the average business identifying six different use cases for the technology.

However, 37 per cent of respondents in Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Germany and the UK rated security and privacy as the biggest challenge they will face when implementing the tools. In Germany, this was an even more pressing issue, with almost half of enterprises (47 per cent) citing this as an area of concern.

Part of this relates to an increasing awareness among the public about the importance of their personal data and what may happen to this when it gets handed over to companies.

Thierry Jacquin, senior research engineer at Xerox, was quoted by Engineering and Technology magazine as saying: "They worry about giving up control over how their data is used, and by whom, and what it means for their right to privacy."

Therefore, it will be important for companies to position themselves as trusted guardians of this data and give their customers more visibility and choice into what information they share – as well as being clear on how it will be used.

“The basic idea is that users can specify, at a very granular level, what they are consenting to," Mr Jacquin said. "They can say things such as: 'I accept that my location can be made visible to [name or type of service, organisation or actor] for [X] purpose, but only for [Y] length of time, and not for any other purpose'."

However, despite these challenges, businesses are viewing big data as a highly positive development for their company. Around three-quarters of respondents agreed that big data can provide companies with a competitive advantage, with this rising to 80 per cent among businesses where big data deployments are already mature.