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​Challenges arise as big data becomes the ‘new normal’

​Challenges arise as big data becomes the ‘new normal’

More projects being started by business units, not just the CIO, reports Gartner.



Investment in big data continues to increase in 2015, but not as rapidly as in previous years. More than three-quarters of companies are investing or planning to invest in big data in the next two years, a 3 per cent increase over 2014, according to a recent survey of IT and business leaders by Gartner

The survey, which was conducted among 437 Gartner Research Circle members in June 2015, included global organisations across all industries, both Gartner clients and non-clients.

"This year begins the shift of big data away from a topic unto itself, and toward standard practices," says Nick Heudecker, research director at Gartner.

Business leaders are taking a more active role in information and analytics projects as awareness of the value of data-driven decision making grows

Nick Heudecker, Gartner


"The topics that formerly defined big data, such as massive data volumes, disparate data sources and new technologies are becoming familiar as big data solutions become mainstream. For example, among companies that have invested in big data technology, 70 per cent are analysing or planning to analyse location data, and 64 per cent are analysing or planning to analyse free-form text."

Read more: Four best practices to kickstart advanced analytics: Gartner

Gartner says organisations typically have multiple goals for big data initiatives, such as enhancing the customer experience, streamlining existing processes, achieving more targeted marketing and reducing costs. As in previous years, organisations are overwhelmingly targeting enhanced customer experience as the primary goal of big data projects (64 per cent). Process efficiency and more-targeted marketing are now tied at 47 per cent. As data breaches continue to make headlines, enhanced security capabilities saw the largest increase, from 15 per cent to 23 per cent.

"As big data becomes the new normal, information and analytics leaders are shifting focus from hype to finding value," says Lisa Kart, research director at Gartner. "While the perennial challenge of understanding value remains, the practical challenges of skills, governance, funding and return on investment (ROI) come to the fore."

While the perennial challenge of understanding value remains, the practical challenges of skills, governance, funding and return on investment (ROI) come to the fore.

Lisa Kart, Gartner

When asked about ROI for big data efforts, the majority of those companies with plans to invest in big data and those that have invested, expect a positive ROI. However, a large proportion of companies (43 per cent of those planning to invest and 38 per cent of those that have already invested) don't know if their ROI will be positive or negative. This uncertainty highlights the challenges in determining the value of big data projects, notes Gartner.

Read more: The art of leading high-performing teams

One of the more significant changes in this year's survey findings is the role within the organisation that initiates big data projects. Last year, 37 per cent of big data projects were initiated by the CIO, while 25 per cent were initiated by business unit heads. In 2015, the roles are nearly tied, at 32 per cent and 31 per cent, respectively.

"Business leaders are taking a more active role in information and analytics projects as awareness of the value of data-driven decision making grows," says Heudecker.


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