Are you making business decisions from big data?

Using Data to Drive Business Advantage
Are we making big data count when it matters?

Big data continues to be one of the hottest topics in the IT industry today. More and more companies understand the benefits and the huge potential that the ability to harness their data more effectively would offer them.

Currently, though, businesses remain frustrated by the speed at which they are able to respond to their information requests that deliver the relevant, accurate information they are looking for.

Here, we speak to Andrew Carr, CEO, Bull UK & Ireland about the issues around managing big data more effectively. We also discuss what the results of Bull's big data analytics survey are telling us about the challenges businesses face today in this area and how they are going about addressing them.

TechRadar Pro: What does the survey tell us about the issues businesses face in getting the data analytics they need in a timely manner?

Andrew Carr: The Bull research found was that two-thirds of business decision-makers (66%) are still not fully satisfied by their organisation's responsiveness to their requests for data analytics.

The survey revealed that dissatisfaction was highest among IT directors, with 84% expressing that they are not completely satisfied with the service they receive, and marketing directors, of whom 80% say they are not totally happy with the response they get to their data requests.

Today's decision-makers increasingly rely on the quality and timeliness of the data reports and analytics they receive from business to ensure they make the right strategic choices. If they don't get the information they need when they need it, this will negatively impact the profitability and competitive edge of their organisations.

So it's worrying that many senior staff are not completely happy with the service they get. Let's not forget, Big Data does not mean access to data quickly.

TRP: Which business departments appear to be worst affected by this issue?

AC: IT and marketing are the two departments that appear to be worst affected by the lack of responsiveness highlighted above. Both have a growing need for big data and high performance analytics. IT departments use data to prioritise where they should focus to support the company's growth and reassert their own value to the enterprise.

Marketing departments increasingly use statistics to develop brand strategy and gain greater insight into the behaviour of customers and prospects. Yet, it appears many organisations either don't understand or are failing to deliver on these requirements.

In contrast, it appears organisations better understand the need to keep the sales department, where the direct link with the customer is clearer, supplied with the right data. All of the sales directors polled reported complete satisfaction with the service received.

TRP: What do IT decision-makers see as the biggest barrier to exploiting data for business advantage?

AC: According to the survey the inadequacy of the IT infrastructure is seen as the biggest barrier in this respect. This was a particularly major issue among IT directors, with 44% highlighting it, and HR directors where it was cited by 24%.

The next biggest barrier was data being stored in disparate locations/silos around the organisation, referenced by 20% of the sample as a whole. Yet this is the exact opportunity presented by Big Data!

Moving forward, it is clear that implementing flexible systems architectures with rigorous data management policies will be critical in driving value for these organisations. IT suppliers and systems integrators have a vital role to play here in delivering the business agility organisations are looking for.

TRP: How happy are business decision-makers with the quality of data they receive?

AC: Data quality is a serious problem for many organisations, with more than half of respondents (56%) saying the data they receive is not highly accurate and 22% in total damning it with faint praise by calling it 'fairly accurate'.

Desire Athow
Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.