The more you know, the more you know what you don't know. This year's InformationWeek Big Data and Analytics Survey stands as a prime example of that adage
We see companies moving in a positive direction on some fronts -- they're integrating more with external data sets, expanding their use of analysis tools, and focusing more on customer data. However, this progress is tempered by a disturbing shift. When we asked survey respondents (266 in all, at organizations with 50 or more employees) to rate how effectively their organizations identify and use data, more characterize their approaches as "limited and siloed" than "holistic and inclusive." Only 30% of respondents say they're very or extremely effective at identifying critical data and using it to make decisions -- that's down from 42% in 2013. A whopping 63% say they're only moderately to slightly effective, with the remaining 7% throwing in the towel and claiming defeat.
Add it up, data jockeys: 70% admit their companies are below par when it comes to data effectiveness, an increase of 12 points over 2013.
It's not as if businesses don't get what big data can do for them. In fact, the areas cited as most ripe for improvement are critical for any enterprise: competitive intelligence, business security, customer service, and product development. And we see good momentum in some key areas, especially pulling in external data sources such as Web analytics. And more than 55% of respondents plan to expand their analytics tool capabilities in 2015.
The right priorities, the right data, the right tools. Why are we faltering?
First, with new data sets and better tools come a (sometimes painful) realization of how far most of us have to go to become truly digital enterprises. Sure, we can develop a better Web presence, create an Internet of Things strategy, and expand our social footprint. But most survey respondents lack a commitment to using all the data they can now tap into. Very few orgs are pulling in all the sources needed to get a 360-degree view of customers, for example.
Lack of budget is the top barrier to successful use of big data, cited by 31% of respondents. But let's be real: Funding complaints always rate No. 1. In second place? Fourteen percent have the guts to say there are more important IT priorities, up three points from last year. We think that response gets at the root cause of big data dawdling: IT is often saying, if not in so many words: "Hey, CMO. You want to own big data and digital? Fine, have fun. Don't call us, we'll call you."
This "stepping away" of IT from a pivotal role in data analysis is confirmed by looking at who pushes new ideas for data analysis. Only 19% of the respondents to our survey say IT is the primary driver, down from 26% in 2013.
Enterprises are faltering in their ability to comprehensively analyze big data, and IT has opted to walk away.
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Mike Healey is the president of Yeoman Technology Group, an engineering and research firm focusing on maximizing technology investments for organizations, and an InformationWeek contributor. He has more than 25 years of experience in technology integration and business ... View Full Bio