Media firms among key operators of big data tools

Companies in sectors including media and communications, banking and services are among those most likely to be deploying big data solutions this year, as interest in the technology continues to grow.

According to Gartner, 64 percent of organizations across all industries plan to get involved with these tools in 2013 or have already done so. This includes 30 percent that have already begun such a deployment, 19 percent that expect to invest in the next 12 months and 15 percent looking to get involved in the next two years.

Among the companies leading the way, 39 percent of media and communications firms that responded to the survey said they had already made investments in big data. For banking firms, this figure was 34 percent and among services companies, it was 32 percent.

Research director at Gartner Lisa Kart said: "The hype around big data continues to drive increased investment and attention, but there is real substance behind the hype." She added the findings of Gartner's research indicate that organizations across all industries and regions are seeing real opportunities in big data and are looking beyond the "smoke and mirrors" that usually accompany highly-hyped technologies.

While businesses are using big data analytics to address a wide range of challenges, Gartner identified several clear patterns, with solutions to improve customer experience and boost efficiency dominating the thinking of many firms.

Almost half of respondents (49 percent) are using data analytics to improve the efficiency of their processes, while 55 percent are enhancing their customer service with the help of the technology.

Ms Kart said, however, that the differing requirements of various sectors are reflected in their approach to big data. "Industries that are driving the customer experience priority are retail, insurance, media and communications, and banking, while process efficiency is a top priority for manufacturing, government, education, healthcare and transportation organizations."

The majority of use cases for big data today revolve around making incremental changes to business practices, such as better understanding customer needs, cutting costs or improving risk detection and management. However, some enterprises are undertaking activities that Gartner described as potentially game changing with the assistance of better insight.

For instance, 42 percent of companies are using the technology to help develop new products and business models, while 23 percent are looking to directly monetize the information they hold.

However, many firms may still have a long way to go before they can reap the full benefits of big data analytics. Gartner found less than eight percent of organizations have fully deployed their solutions, with a further 20 percent still piloting the technology, 18 percent developing a strategy, 19 percent gathering knowledge and the remainder unsure of where they stand.

Frank Buytendijk, research vice-president at Gartner, said: "For big data, 2013 is the year of experimentation and early deployment. Adoption is still at the early stages." 

Meanwhile, a separate survey conducted last month has also found the scale of investments in big data is on the rise. Figures from New Vantage Partners revealed 19 percent of large enterprises will invest more than $10 million in big data initiatives this year, but this is set to rise to 50 percent by 2016. Large-scale investments of more than $50 million will also double over the same period.