NORWALK, Conn. — While companies are racing toward implementing Big Data initiatives, a recent Xerox study says there are significant issues slowing the capture of value. Business executives said there are a wide range of challenges in implementing Big Data strategies, including data security, privacy and data quality.
The commissioned study conducted in Europe by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Xerox (NYSE: XRX), also found that the lack of user training and inadequate change management are hindering the business transformation that big data solutions offer.
“Executives see the potential of data-driven intelligence taking root, but the soil is still quite rocky in spots,” said Craig Saunders, director, Analytics Resource Center, Xerox Consulting and Analytics Services. “The ecosystem is full of challenges.”
The study, based on a survey of 330 top-level executives from across Western Europe paints a portrait of the Big Data business journey, describing in detail how factors such as “big data maturity” and poor data quality impact the enterprise.
It cites three key trends underlining the state of big data in the enterprise today:
- Big data is key decision-driver for 2015: Three fifths (61%) of organizations said decisions made during the next year are likely to be based more on data-driven intelligence than factors such as gut feeling, opinion or experience.
- Inaccurate data proving costly: But 70% of organizations are still encountering inaccurate data in their systems and 46% believe it’s impacting negatively on their business, requiring re-calculation or totally unusable data sets.
- Data security and privacy: 37% of respondents rated data security and privacy as one of their biggest challenges when implementing big data strategies.
“Despite the challenges, the large majority of companies are moving forward with big data technology across a wide range of different use cases,” said Saunders. “But there’s also a wide range of issues that keep executives up at night.”
Challenges affecting the potential future success of big data strategies varied from country to country:
- 48% of German firms are challenged by data quality issues –more than the European average (34%)
- Germans are also more likely to experience data security and privacy issues (47% versus the average of 37%)
- Belgium is particularly concerned about a lack of user training (39%) and C-level support (36%)
- France’s primary concern is the lack of access to client / third-party data (39%)
- 36% of UK respondents feel lack of user training will impact their ability to implement their big data strategy
- In the Netherlands, lack of access to internal data (due to technical bottlenecks) is the top challenge (36%)
“Datarati” Pull Ahead
The study found only 20% of respondents show high competence in dealing with big data, defined as ‘Datarati’, while 31% are shown to be clearly lagging behind in their approaches (‘Data-laggards’). Most, (49%), were categorized in between these two groups, and defined as ‘Data-explorers.’
Big Data Maturity Groups
- 20% strong big data competence (‘Datarati’)
- 49% mid-level big data competence (‘Data-explorers’)
- 31% low big data competence
There is a marked difference between the Datarati and Data-laggards in terms of data quality. Nearly two-fifths (38%) of Datarati say that they never or rarely find misleading or inaccurate information within their data sets, while only about a fifth (19%) of Data-laggards said this.
A third (33%) of the Datarati have complete trust in big data analysis when making executive decisions, compared with only 17% of Data-laggards.
Partnerships Remove Roadblocks
Company aspirations around big data remain high despite the presence of inaccurate data. Overall, adoption of big data solutions are expected to transform businesses through providing closer engagement with customers (55%), better engagement within internal teams (54%) and supporting greater employee productivity (54%).
“The majority of executives anticipate ROI soon, but realize that many organizational silos need to be broken in order to achieve that vision.” said Saunders.
Over half (55%) of respondents in the study declare that they lack strong enough processes to ensure true data quality. To this end, 33% of respondents plan to hire more data engineers over the next 12–24 months, and 30% will also be looking to hire data governance developers and data scientists.
Partnering with external experts is one way executives hope to make progress. The study showed 30% of respondents plan to partner with external providers to bring big data projects up to speed in the next 12 months. Three-fifths (59%) of respondents would choose to contract with two suppliers working in partnership, where one brings deep industry knowledge and the other is a specialist analytics firm.
Top 2015 Information and Communications Technology Priorities
- Big data solutions
- Real-time business or customer analytics
- Achieving single view of customer
- Understanding product performance
- Web analytics/Location specific insights
“To make the most of the opportunities that big data and data analytics presents, organizations need to make the right investments in their big data ecosystem – people, culture, systems and processes, as well as good partnering choices,” said Saunders
“We’ve seen this first hand as enterprises apply and use solutions that incorporate Xerox’s data analytics research to provide better real-time information, understand complex relationships within data and predict future outcomes based on past data, in industries ranging from healthcare to customer care to transportation.”
For instance, Xerox is working to use big data to provide transportation departments such as the City of Los Angeles with solutions to efficiently manage parking spaces in the downtown area of the city, using big data from sensors in the ground. The same technology is being implemented by the transportation department in Washington, D.C.
Xerox technology can read license plate numbers at toll booths, adjust parking meter rates on demand and detect the number of passengers in a vehicle cruising in HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lanes.