Big Data Comes of Age in 2014

Many Businesses See Potential of Approach but Issues around Technology Skills and Resourcing are Holding Some Back
Maidenhead, Berkshire

A new survey has revealed 2014 looks set to be the year when many businesses make the step from Big Data theory to practical real-world roll-outs. The research, carried out in Spring 2014 and sponsored by Talend, found that around one in five (20%) organisations had implemented, or were in the process of implementing Big Data tools, either on a trial, or on a real-time operational basis.

A further 24% of the sample were well aware of the possibilities of the technology and had actively looked at Big Data solutions.  All of this is happening in an environment where the benefits of Big Data projects is increasingly a given. Indeed, 93% of survey respondents said they worked for a business with ‘some awareness’ of the fact that they should be utilising their data to drive the business forward.

According to Yves de Montcheuil, vice president, marketing, Talend: “Major market developments over the past year are positively impacting the ability of business to deliver Big Data projects. Wider awareness is key but so too are the growing use of infrastructure as a service; a better understanding of the potential of unstructured data and growing usage of real-time analytics. All of these have been identified as key drivers of growth in the survey.”

For many organisations, the big benefit of Big Data is as a driver towards achieving strategic goals. When asked to list the main advantages to their organisation of more advanced Big Data processing and analytics solutions, the top three benefits highlighted were quicker and better decision-making (referenced by 44%); identifying new trends/opportunities (also 44%) and competitive edge (40%).          

Yet, despite this increasingly positive understanding of the benefits of big data, there are still a range of perceived barriers that are preventing organisations from taking the plunge and going live with Big Data implementations. 

For many businesses one of the biggest barriers to real-world implementations is that a ‘siloed’ approach to Big Data often remains and that the IT department is in many cases still in sole control of the approach.  28% of the survey sample claimed initial demand came from IT, more than twice the proportion (13%) who cited the board of directors/ senior management.

In terms of successfully managing and exploiting the potential opportunities afforded by Big Data, by far the most important difficulty identified is resources. 39% of the sample cited a lack of skills or a lack of time to exploit the potential opportunities offered by Big Data. The next most important issue was integration. 18% identified formatting and merging different types of data as a key difficulty while 15% cited analytical issues including data complexity and lack of data visibility.

Big data sandboxes or proof-of-concept projects, such as the Talend Big Data Sandbox, can potentially help accelerate this adoption path by delivering a preconfigured virtual environment designed to quickly get big data projects off the ground through real-world use cases and interactive learning tools. In short, the Sandbox approach provides an ideal environment for businesses to experiment, thereby gleaning the confidence to ‘give Big Data a go’, knowing they will not impact production systems.

“Big Data adoption is no longer in its infancy today but is at last reaching a tipping point. Today, businesses are increasingly aware of the benefits that big data can provide and realise that by not implementing the approach to drive business advantage, they risk getting left behind by the competition in the years to come.” says de Montcheuil. “Now that the technology is available to enable them to overcome the perceived risks, budget constraints and skill shortages, there is nothing to prevent most organisations from beginning to leverage the Big Data they have at their disposal to help achieve their strategic goals.”