Big Data balloon can lack air

DQI Bureau
New Update

Big data investments in 2013 continue to rise, with 64 per cent of organizations investing or planning to invest in big data technology compared with 58 per cent in 2012, according to a survey by Gartner, Inc.


However, less than eight per cent of survey respondents have actually deployed. "The hype around big data continues to drive increased investment and attention, but there is real substance behind the hype," said Lisa Kart, research director at Gartner.

"Our survey underlines the fact that organizations across industries and geographies see 'opportunity' and real business value rather than the 'smoke and mirrors' with which hypes usually come."

The Gartner survey of 720 Gartner Research Circle members worldwide, which was conducted in June 2013, was designed to examine organizations' technology investment plans around big data, stages of big data adoption, business problems solved, data, technology and challenges. The survey found that of the 64 per cent of organizations investing or planning to invest in big data technology in 2013, 30 per cent have already invested in big data technology, 19 per cent plan to invest within the next year, and an additional 15 per cent plan to invest within two years.


Industries leading big data investments in 2013 are media and communications, banking, and services. Some 39 per cent of media and communications organizations said that they have already invested in big data, followed by 34 per cent of banking organizations and 32 per cent of services firms. Planned investments during the next two years are highest for transportation (50 per cent), healthcare (41 per cent) and insurance (40 per cent). However, every vertical industry again shows big data investment and planned investment.

Consistent with Gartner experience, EMEA and Latin America tend to lag in technology adoption, for which big data is no different. Regardless of geography, investment typically has different stages that organizations go through. It starts with knowledge gathering, followed by strategy setting. The investment is small, and mostly consists of time. Then it is typically followed by an experiment or proof of concept. Still, the investment is small and tentative. Then, after completing a successful pilot, the first deployments take place. Here the investment curve rises. Over time, business operations start to rely on the deployments, and the investments move from implementing systems to managing them.

"For big data, 2013 is the year of experimentation and early deployment," said Frank Buytendijk, research vice president at Gartner. "Adoption is still at the early stages with less than eight per cent of all respondents indicating their organization has deployed big data solutions. Twenty percent are piloting and experimenting, 18 per cent are developing a strategy, 19 per cent are knowledge gathering, while the remainder has no plans or don't know."

Looking at big data adoption for those organizations that have made investments, 70 per cent have moved past the early knowledge gathering and strategy formation phases and into piloting (44 per cent) and deployment (25 per cent). Among those planning to invest during the next two years, 80 per cent are in the earlier stages (knowledge gathering and strategy phase). The survey revealed that there are a wide range of business problems being addressed using big data, although there are some clear patterns.

In Gartner's 2012 and 2013 studies, business cases that improve process efficiency and business cases around customer experience dominate big data wish lists. In the 2013 survey, 55 per cent of organizations said that they are currently addressing enhanced customer experience using big data, while 49 per cent are using big data to address process efficiency.

Some organizations are engaging in more "game-changing" activities; for example, 42 per cent are developing new products and business models, and 23 per cent are monetizing information directly. This is encouraging, as Gartner believes that the big opportunities lie mostly in these areas. "While there are many areas companies would like to address, a slightly different picture emerges when we ask about the priority of these categories," said Kart. "Different industries have different priorities when it comes 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."

Just as big data priorities are changing, Gartner has observed that big data challenges shift with organizational maturity in information management, especially handling big data. Organizations are struggling most this year with knowing how to get value from big data, compared with last year's top challenge of governance issues. This is followed by difficulties in defining a strategy while obtaining skills; it also remains a critical issue for one-third of organizations.

First published in CIOL