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SAS Survey Reveals Big Data Disconnect

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Posted April 1, 2013 By Pedro Hernandez     Feedback

The vast majority of organizations are missing out on the business-boosting potential of Big Data, according to business software maker SAS.

Big Data may be dominating the conversation in IT circles, but most businesses just can't seem to get on board at this point.

While conducting a survey of 339 data management pros, SAS and SourceMedia discovered that for most, Big Data simply doesn't factor into the day-to-day operations of their organizations. Only 12 percent of respondents said they had a big data strategy currently in place.

The rest, suggests Todd Wright, Global Product Marketing Manager for SAS DataFlux Data Quality, are leaving money on the table. "The 12 percent of organizations that are already planning around big data enjoy a significant competitive advantage," he said in a company statement.

The study is the latest to highlight the seemingly uneasy relationship businesses have with Big Data solutions providers.

Seventy percent of organizations polled by integration software specialist Informatica told the company they were planning or had already pulled the trigger on Big Data projects. The survey, released last May, revealed that most companies (71 percent) were looking to improve efficiency.

Fifty percent sought to launch new products and services, yet despite these aims, most businesses are struggling to leverage Big Data in meaningful ways.

Neolane, a maker of marketing software, and the Direct Marketers Association recently revealed that a majority of marketers (60 percent) don't have a handle on dealing with Big Data challenges. In September, CompTIA released a study that indicates the industry needs to do a better job of communicating what exactly Big Data is. Just 37 percent of IT and executives polled by the organizations said they were very familiar or mostly familiar with the concept of Big Data.

Those themes were echoed by the SAS study.

Twenty-one percent of those surveyed said they didn't know enough about Big Data, and 15 percent didn't understand its benefits. Business support was nonexistent for 9 percent of the survey takers, while another 9 percent found data quality lacking in existing systems.

These shortcomings, if left to linger, could impact providers of Big Data services. Only 14 percent said they were "very likely" to use external Big Data sources in 2014. A small but significant minority (19 percent) said they were "not likely at all" to incorporate external Big Data.

Companies also appear to be struggling to identify who takes the reins of Big Data within their organizations, sowing dysfunction.

"The survey found no real consensus on who owns the data management strategy, with responses ranging from midlevel IT personnel up to the CEO. This confusion likely causes additional challenges in data strategy development and execution," said SAS.

Although the picture looks grim, there is some evidence that businesses at least have a grasp of what they want from Big Data solutions. Seventy-three percent said they were seeking data visualizations and dashboards, while 53 percent had their sights set on data profiling. And in good news for Big Data cloud specialists, 44 percent said they were looking for software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

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