8 in 10 organisations ramping up big data spend

01 July 2019 Consultancy.uk 5 min. read
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The number of companies that have fully implemented big data has more than doubled in the past year, while more than eight in 10 have increased investment. According to a new survey, accuracy, insight and process optimisation seen as the biggest business benefits of big data.

big data has rapidly ascended to the top of many businesses agendas, as firms have become aware of the opportunities data analytics provide to understanding customer behaviour. Nearly half of UK organisations now apply big data for insights; however, the track record still isn’t great, as just 30% of organisations that use big data are extracting enough value.

With many UK companies are still finding their way around big data, testing technologies, use cases and tools, as well as new operational models, businesses from multiple industries are subsequently looking into how big data technologies can enable them to rearchitect their operation and reinvent themselves to remain competitive. Now, a new survey from analytics firm Whishworks has found that leadership has begun to understand that in the realm of big data, experimentation and testing are necessary in order to fully realise the true potential of their investment.

Investment in Big Data projects

The poll of big data strategists, architects and users based in the UK revealed a strong upward trend in the adoption of big data, with the number of companies having fully implemented and using big data shooting up to 50% from just 18% in the same survey in 2018. At the same time, investment has spiked sharply, with forecasts now expecting worldwide revenues for big data and business analytics solutions to reach $189.1 billion this year, rising by 12% from 2018, and $274.3 billion by 2022. 

According to Whishworks, this trend is reflected in the results of the survey, with 81% of the respondents saying that the investment in big data projects is increasing in their companies. The report found that, as is often the case in the field of digitalisation, fear of missing out seems to be the most common factor driving big data investment. The dreaded FOMO in this case is driven by the belief competitors are already using the technologies to disrupt the market. 

This increase in investment also signifies that now company leadership has a better understanding that experimentation is necessary to realise the true potential value add of big data technologies. The study found that many of the companies that tentatively started experimenting with big data a year ago have been able to rapidly scale up their projects, while following their lead, the number of companies that are actively investigating the potential benefits of big data for their operation has almost doubled.

Challenges in the adoption and progress of Big Data projects

One of the key fears still holding back the adoption of big data technology is the feeling companies would struggle to prove a return on investment (ROI) in the field. Typically, when talking about ROI, business leaders expect to see hard benefits, like profits, sales, or savings, however, for the largest portion of 47% of companies, big data is still a rather new endeavour and as a result, measuring benefits and ROI is still a challenge.

At the same time, a growing understanding of big data has seen several new worries come to the fore for most companies. While last year only 18% of respondents said they considered the complexity of big data projects a top challenge, a year’s worth of experience has seen this become the major issue facing big data adoption, with 56% of respondents naming it. Similarly, having legacy technology which is unfit for purpose has proven to be something sorely underestimated by businesses, and has seen a meteoric rise from 19% to 53% in 2019. On the other hand, some challenges are becoming much less of an issue. 

A year ago lack of experienced resources (71%) and limited understanding from across the organisation (65%) were highlighted as the main barriers in progressing big data projects. The former now stands at 41%, while the latter represents 29% of respondents, showing how rapidly the understanding of big data solutions is progressing. Further illustrating this, the number of business areas companies expect to benefit from these technologies has more than doubled, with reporting accuracy and insight (67%), process optimisation (61%) and improvements financial data analysis and workforce management, (both at 56%) leading the way. 

Edward Davies, Vice President of Sales at Whishworks, said, “It seems that companies are much more cognisant of the benefits big data can bring to their business and their strategic and tactical shortcomings in adopting big data... We’ve seen some significant increases in investment, adoption and understanding of big data as businesses recognise that traditional data management systems are no longer fit for purpose. Big data is the future of smart, successful businesses and compared to 2018, many companies are well on their way to implementation.”