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New Study Details How Real-World Enterprises Are Using Big Data

October 17, 2012

IBM’s Institute for Business Value (IBV) and the University of Oxford just released their information-rich and insightful report “Analytics: The real-world use of big data.Based on a survey of over 1000 professionals from 100 countries across 25+ industries, the report provides insights into organizations’ top business objectives, where they are in their big data journey, and how they are advancing their big data efforts. It also provides a pragmatic set of recommendations to organizations as they proceed down the path of big data.

One very interesting factoid in the study is that 63% of respondents indicated that the use of information (including big data) and analytics is creating a competitive advantage for their organizations–a 70% increase in the past two years alone. As an increasingly important segment of the broader information and analytics market, big data is having a big impact.

When asked to rank their top three objectives for big data, nearly 50% of respondents identified customer-centric objectives as their organization’s top priority. This is the ability to better understand and predict customer behaviors, and as a result, improve the customer experience. Transactions, multi-channel interactions, social media, loyalty cards, and other customer-related information have all increased the ability to create a complete picture of customers’ preferences and demands. This objective clearly applies in retail, but equally as well in telecommunications, healthcare, government, banking and finance, and consumer industries. Other big data applications that were frequently mentioned included: operational optimization, risk/financial management, employee collaboration and enabling new business models.

Many organizations are basing their business cases on the following benefits that can be derived from big data:

  • Smarter decisions – Leveraging new sources of data to improve the quality of decision-making.
  • Faster decisionsEnabling more real-time data capture and analysis to support decision making at the “point of impact,” for example, when a customer is navigating your website or on the telephone with a customer service representative.
  • Decisions that make a differenceFocusing big data efforts on areas that can provide true differentiation.

The study found that organizations are taking a pragmatic approach to big data. The most effective big data solutions identify business requirements first, and then tailor the infrastructure, data sources and analytics to support the business opportunity. These organizations extract new insights from existing and newly available internal sources of information, define a big data technology strategy and then incrementally upgrade their infrastructures accordingly over time.

A deep examination of big data adoption found an interesting pattern of changing sponsorship. More than 1/3 of big data efforts are being driven by the CIO, primarily because in the early stages of adoption the organization is investing in technology and beginning to identify business opportunities and requirements. As organizations advance to later stages, sponsorship is provided by a business executive such as a CMO or CFO, or even the CEO. Having a single point-of-focus by a business executive sponsor is viewed as critical to big data success but that the CIO and IT organization must continue to play an important role.

5 key findings highlighted in the study:

  • Across all industries, the business case for big data is strongly focused on addressing customer-centric objectives
  • A scalable and extensible information management foundation is a prerequisite for big data advancement
  • Organizations are beginning their pilots and implementations by using existing and newly accessible internal sources of data
  • Advanced analytic capabilities are required, yet often lacking, for organizations to get the most value from big data
  • As awareness and involvement in big data grows, four key stages of big data adoption emerge along a continuum.

To sum it up, this new research study is a fantastic, information-rich analysis of what organizations are really doing with big data–business objectives, analytical capabilities, data sources, and information foundation. It highlights stage-related patterns and considerations at each stage of their journey. Plus, it provides pragmatic recommendations based on real-world experience to organizations proceeding down their big data journey.

Whether you are just getting started with in big data or have already begun your big data journey, I highly recommend you read this study.

Download “Analytics: The real-world use of big data and let me know what you think about the research. What do you see as your organization's biggest opportunities? Where are you on the adoption continuum?

As always, Think Big!

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