Half of firms struggling to leverage big data

A large number of companies still have a great deal of work to do if they are to make the most of their big data deployments, as new research has revealed half of organizations claim their initial attempts to take advantage of the tools have failed.

This is according to a survey by Fifth Quadrant carried out in Australia, which found that even though three-quarters of enterprises in the country use big data analytics to examine the growing quantities of information they gather, just one in eight described the results of this as ‘extremely successful’, compared with 53 percent that were disappointed with the outcome, stated.

A key reason for this was said to be a lack of relevant skills. Nearly half of organizations surveyed (47 percent) cited this as a challenge. Meanwhile, other common issues included a lack of access to the right technology (36 percent), poorly integrated IT systems (34 percent) and a lack of internal resources (31 percent).

The publication noted these findings mirror those of a study by the Economist Intelligence Unit earlier this year, in which 45 percent of respondents in the US claimed they lacked sufficient data analytics capabilities to make the most of their information.

Head of customer experience research at Fifth Quadrant Chris Kirby said the survey revealed that businesses understand the potential that big data can offer – particularly when it comes to understanding the needs of customers – but progress needs to be made on turning this potential into real-world results.

“We know big data analytics are being used by organizations to drive a range of positive performance outcomes, but this study also shows work still needs to be done to leverage the analytics for greatest advantage,” he said.

The study found that the biggest users of big data within enterprises are customer service, sales and marketing teams, while the department least likely to get involved with the solution is human resources.

Typical objectives for companies embarking on big data projects include improving their forecasting, customer experience, marketing and real-time decision-making. However, as companies become more mature in their understanding of what big data can offer them, a much wider range of use cases open up. These include reducing operational overhead costs, developing new products and detecting and preventing fraud.

Less mature firms also do not have leadership from the very top when it comes to controlling their big data schemes, with most inexperienced companies delegating responsibility for these projects to a line-of-business or business unit manager.

Just one in five immature organizations have their chief executive in charge of their big data thought leadership, compared with 41 percent of mature companies. Firms that rate highly for maturity are also more advanced when it comes to determining return on investment and managing resources.

Mr Kirby said: “The greatest success appears to come when organizations adopt an integrated customer analytics strategy that puts quality data in the hands of decision makers and leadership from executive teams is critical.”