Security, budget and a shortage of skilled professionals to implement and run big data are the top challenges for organizations
NEW YORK; Sept. 10, 2014 – Ninety-two percent of executives from companies that are applying big data to their businesses said they are satisfied with the results, according to new research by Accenture (NYSE: ACN). Eighty-nine percent of respondents rated big data as “very important” or “extremely important” to their businesses’ digital transformation, and 82 percent agreed big data provides a significant source of value for their companies.
The study is based on a survey of chief information officers, chief operating officers, chief data officers, chief analytics officers, chief marketing officers, chief financial officers and other senior technology, data and analytics leaders from companies in 19 countries across seven industries.
“Businesses are at a transition point where instead of just talking about the potential results that can be achieved from big data, they are realizing actual benefits including increasing revenues, a growing base of loyal customers, and more efficient operations,” said Narendra Mulani, senior managing director, Accenture Analytics, part of Accenture Digital. “They’re recognizing that big data is one of the cornerstones of digital transformation.”
For example, using anonymized customer attributes and geolocation data from its WiFi access points, a Japanese telecommunications provider offers consumer companies a platform to target promising customers with mobile advertisements in real-time. Also, a British utilities company processes data in real-time from sensors in water pipes to better anticipate equipment failures and respond faster to leaks and adverse weather events.
“Today, even the most basic items like water pipes can generate and provide data. While the Internet of Things is giving rise to massive sources and quantities of data, new big data technologies are emerging that help uncover crucial business insights from the data. Companies not implementing big data solutions are missing an opportunity to turn their data into an asset that drives business and a competitive advantage,” added Mulani.
More than 60 percent of executives said their companies have successfully completed a big data implementation, while 36 percent haven’t pursued a big data project yet and are currently not pursuing such a project. Four percent were currently pursuing but hadn’t finished their first big data project.
Where Big Data Drives Business Benefits
According to the research, executives said their companies use big data moderately or extensively to: identify new sources of revenue (94 percent), retain and acquire customers (90 percent), and develop new products and services (89 percent).
This is also where the research indicates many enterprises are seeing big business impacts. Executives noted extensive tangible business outcomes from big data in finding new sources of revenue (56 percent), new product and service development (50 percent), winning and keeping customers (47 percent), and enhancing the customer experience (51 percent).
Asked where they expect big data to have the biggest impact on their organization in the next five years, 63 percent of executives said “customer relationships”, 58 percent mentioned “product development”, and 56 percent said “operations”.
Challenges When Implementing Big Data
Executives also reported running into the following challenges when implementing big data in their organizations: security (the greatest challenge cited by 51 percent); budget (47 percent); lack of talent to implement big data (41 percent) as well as to run big data and analytics on an ongoing basis (37 percent); and integration with existing systems (35 percent).
“We’ve seen organizations overcome big data implementation challenges by remaining flexible and recognizing that no single solution suits every situation,” said Vince Dell’Anno, managing director and global information management lead, Accenture Analytics, part of Accenture Digital. “If a particular approach doesn’t work, organizations quickly try another one, learning as they grow. They also start small and stay realistic in their expectations. Rather than attempting to do everything at once, they focus resources around proving value in one area, and then let the results cascade from there.”
Large Companies Take Different Approach to Big Data
The research also indicates that large companies with more than $10B in annual revenue approach big data differently than small companies having less than $500M in annual revenue:
- Importance of big data: Sixty-seven percent of executives from large companies see big data as extremely important, compared to only 43 percent of respondents from smaller companies.
- Defining big data: Executives from large companies demonstrate a broader perception of what big data includes versus respondents from small companies, using more data sources in their big data efforts, e.g.: social network data (54 percent vs. 29 percent), visualization data (50 percent vs. 29 percent), and unstructured data (49 percent vs. 36 percent).
- C-suite support of big data projects: Sixty-two percent of executives from large companies report extensive C-suite understanding and support of big data initiatives compared to 42 percent of respondents from small companies.
For companies and executives to get the most from their big data projects and help ease big data challenges, the research report outlines key recommendations for organizations including:
- Explore the entire big data ecosystem and be nimble – Data sources and big data technologies are in a constant state of flux. Companies need to learn to stay alert and be nimble to seize opportunities arising from, e.g., evolving technologies.
- Start small then grow – Rather than attempting to do everything at once, companies should focus resources around proving value from big data in one business area first via a pilot program or proof of concept.
- Focus on building skills – With talent listed as one of the biggest big data challenges, organizations need to build the big data skills of existing employees through training and development. Fifty-four percent of executives said their companies have already developed internal technical training opportunities for their employees. Most organizations also tap outside expertise; a mere five percent of respondents said their company used only internal resources for their big data implementations.
About the research
The survey covers executives from companies that have completed at least one big data implementation. More than 4,300 targets were screened of which 36 percent reported their company had not completed and weren’t currently pursuing a big data installation while four percent said their organizations were currently implementing their first big data project. Of the remaining 2,600, a sample of 1,007 was interviewed from February through early April 2014. Respondents were from companies with annual revenues between US$250 million and more than US$10 billion. Ninety-seven percent held one of the following titles: COO, CIO, CMO, CFO, Analytics Lead, Chief Data Officer, Chief Analytics Officer, Director of Analytics or equivalent, Technology Director, Senior Vice President: Data, Analytics or Technology. The following industries are covered in the survey: Banking, Communications, Consumer Goods & Services, Energy, Healthcare Providers & Payers, Insurance, and Retail. Companies are headquartered in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, UK, US.
Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with more than 293,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world’s most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. The company generated net revenues of US$28.6 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2013. Its home page is www.accenture.com.
Accenture Analytics, part of Accenture Digital, delivers insight-driven outcomes at scale to help organizations improve their performance. With deep industry, functional, business process and technical experience, Accenture Analytics develops innovative consulting and outsourcing services for clients to help ensure they receive returns on their analytics investments. For more information follow us @ISpeakAnalytics and visit www.accenture.com/analytics.
Jens R. Derksen
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