The big Big Data question

Posted by Karen on Sep 18, 2015 12:00:00 AM
The rise of wearable technology, the Internet of Things, and cloud computing feeds into the Big Data revolution. There’s no way to avoid it, there’s a considerable amount of data out there about all of us. But businesses don’t have to use it. Various studies have shown that Big Data is popular; especially with the financial sector (which raconteur found had the highest adoption rates). Studies by Datameer and NewVantage Partners found that customer analytics and insights were the primary drivers for those businesses that had adopted Big Data. But various factors, and concerns, are still holding some businesses back from investing in Big Data.

Security and privacy

One survey found that 37 per cent of businesses surveyed (in the UK, Belgium, Germany, France and the Netherlands) identified security and privacy concerns as the most pressing issues when it came to Big Data implementation, with German businesses being especially cautious.

Dell researched the issue and found that 35 per cent of decision makers surveyed considered security to be the “biggest barrier” to expanding their work with Big Data. While researchers at Xerox argue that to remedy this, users need to know exactly what they are allowing firms to do with their data to increase trust in the business, Dell looked at the internal concerns about security. It found that for those businesses that identified as “very confident” in their security, 84 per cent said that senior leadership was “fully engaged” in the process (compared to 43 per cent of senior leaders in organisations unsure of their own security measures.) The real question is whether the security / privacy concerns are being over inflated. No one seems to mind having a Tesco Clubcard that gives away massive amounts of information about an individual because the consumer gets something in return. Other businesses need to remember this when it comes to adopting Big Data and not let concerns get in the way of offering a better service to customers.


Recruiting people with the technical and analytical skills to work with Big Data is still a major barrier to implementation. After all, why invest in technology and databases if you’re going to have a hard time finding someone to work with it?

Respondents to Dell’s survey reported that the lack of technical skills was a barrier to Big Data adoption (21 per cent), as well as citing analytics and operational costs as a factor (34 per cent). While it’s true that data analysis can be outsourced to specialist agencies, employees can be better placed to know exactly what the company wants and needs to get out of the data.

Getting value out of data

Dell found that, while 61 per cent of respondents had the ability to somehow get the data analysed; only 39 per cent of them had any idea how to get the value of the data. For businesses to get any real use out of Big Data initiatives, they must know what questions they want answering. This lack of understanding causes many businesses significant pause when considering adopting Big Data.

Hadoop adoption

Hadoop, the open-source software architecture that enables massive amounts of data to be stored and processed, is closely tied to Big Data. Although there’s significant interest about the software, some businesses are reluctant to adopt the technology. Gartner identified the main reason as the “skills gap”, again, businesses were unsure of how they could get value from the data collected.

“Despite considerable hype and reported successes for early adopters, 54% of survey respondents report no plans to invest at this time, while only 18% plan to invest in Hadoop over the next two years.” Nick Heudecker, analyst at Gartner When you consider that the lack of industry expertise means that contractors are able to charge £600 an hour for their services, you start to see why some businesses are deciding that now is not the right time to take the plunge.

Make data meaningful

Research by the Boston Consulting predicts that the data of EU citizens will be worth around $1.1 trillion by 2020. But what can businesses do with this data? The Internet of Things and the data generated by it are meaningless unless the data is analysed, and real value is derived from it.

We’ve seen that it’s possible and businesses need to overcome the concerns in order to truly adopt all that Big Data can deliver.
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