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Midmarket firms ‘taking aggressive approach’ to big data

Big data projects are no longer just for the largest enterprises, as new research has shown midmarket firms are increasingly adopting an aggressive approach to the technology, with many of these companies keen to embrace the latest solutions.

This is according to a study by Dell, which revealed 41 percent of these organizations already have one or more big data analytics projects in place, while a further 55 percent intend to start such an initiative in the near future. The study also found the goals for these deployments tend to revolve around growing the business, rather than just finding new ways to cut costs.

Darin Bartik, executive director for product management and information management at Dell Software, observed the survey reveals why 'big data' is still a relative term and not one that is only applicable to large enterprises looking to manage very complex data sets.

He said: "When organizations of any size focus on improving the quality of their business processes by becoming more analytical and data-driven, the potential benefits are limitless."

Four out of five respondents to the study agreed they need to improve the way they analyze their rapidly-growing data collections. The top goals for these firms include boosting the quality of their products, becoming better able to quickly seize new business opportunities and speeding up their decision-making processes.

And so far, the results have been encouraging. Some 89 percent of respondents with a data analytics initiative in progress said they have seen significant improvements in their company's decision-making. Half of organizations with such projects in place added they are satisfied with the speed of these processes, compared with just 23 percent of firms that have yet to get started with big data.

As a result of this early success, executives expect to see an increase in the amount of resources they devote to this area. Overall, respondents said they expect to see their big data budgets rise from the current level of between $2 million and $5 million to an average of $6 million in the next two years.

This investment will go towards improving businesses' hardware and software solutions, as well as training staff in how to make their use of big data more effective.

Mr Bartik added that this bodes well for the future of the industry, noting: "The early success midmarket companies are seeing with their big data initiatives will encourage more growth and investment, and additional returns on that investment will be achieved as they dive further into different datasets and embrace ever-improving analytic capabilities."

The survey also found that despite the positives seen so far, there remains great potential for growth and improvement in the big data analytics sector. Being able to adequately manage the complex data sets was found to be the most significant obstacle faced by companies at the present time.

It was also noted that 40 percent of organizations consider the need to manage a wide variety of new data types and structures to be a significant challenge, while 24 percent are struggling with what they view as a lack of easy-to-use, cost-effective data cleansing tools.