We asked Big Data strategists, architects and users based in the UK to give us a comprehensive view of how much progress has been made with Big Data initiatives and whether they are achieving the expected return on their investment. WHISHWORKS’ latest report ‘the State of Big Data in the UK in 2019’ consolidates the results from their answers.
Since the last survey just over a year ago, there is a strong upward trend in the adoption of Big Data, with the number of companies having fully implemented and using Big Data rising to 50% from just 18% last year. Moreover, many of the companies that have tentatively started experimenting with Big Data a year ago, are rapidly scaling up their projects, whereas the number of companies that are actively investigating the potential benefits of Big Data for their operation has almost doubled; a strong indication of mainstream adoption of Big Data.
Investment in Big Data
IDC forecasts worldwide revenues for Big Data and business analytics (BDA) solutions to reach $189.1 billion this year (up by 12% over 2018) and $274.3 billion in 2022. This trend is reflected in the results of the survey, with 81% of the respondents saying that the investment in Big Data projects is increasing in their companies.
The most common factor driving Big Data investment is the fear of disruption by competitors that are already using the technologies to their advantage. This increase in investment also signifies that now company leadership has a better understanding of the value Big Data technologies can bring to an organisation.
Return on Investment (ROI)
Typically, when talking about ROI, business leaders expect to see hard benefits, like profits, sales, or savings. However, for the majority of companies, Big Data is still a rather new endeavour and as a result, measuring benefits and ROI is still a challenge (47% of the respondents said it’s not easy to prove the value from their Big Data projects).
Drivers for investment in Big Data
When asked what are the biggest drivers for investment in Big Data projects, 82% said IT Transformation and Modernisation, followed by Business and Sales growth (65%) and Strategic differentiation and innovation (59%).
Indeed, for any company, the IT department is at the heart of digital transformation. However, managing large numbers of disparate, often legacy technologies and custom code is becoming increasingly difficult. Big Data technologies can help IT departments rethink their role, rationalise their ecosystem, and optimise their processes whilst acquiring new skill sets. In doing so, they will become a true enabler for company-wide growth, differentiation and innovation.
Challenges in Big Data
A lot can happen in a year and the Big Data space is no exception. A year ago lack of experienced resources (71%) and limited understanding from across the organisation (65%) were highlighted as the main barriers in progressing Big Data projects. In 2019 it seems that companies have begun to gain an understanding of the role Big Data can play across their operation, whereas there are more specialised and up-skilled professionals in the various Big Data technologies than a year ago. According to the survey’s respondents, today the top two challenges for Big Data projects are around the technology itself and specifically the complexity of the Big Data technology landscape(56%) and old, legacy technologies that are no longer fit-for-purpose(53%).
Most impactful Big Data technologies
Although Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning remain at the top of the list of the most impactful Big Data technologies with 61%, this year saw an impressive rise in cloud computing (50% from 13%) and digital technologies (44% from 30%).
Lines of business most benefited from Big Data
In 2019 the number of business areas companies expect to benefit from these technologies has more than doubled from just a year ago. Top of the list is reporting accuracy and insight which jumped to 67% from just 24% last year, followed by process optimisation at 61% and improvements financial data analysis and workforce management, both at 56%.
Edward Davies, VP of Sales at WHISHWORKS, says: “From the findings of the survey, it seems that companies are much more cognizant of the benefits Big Data can bring to their business and their strategic and tactical shortcomings in adopting Big Data. However, the majority still haven’t managed to showcase company-wide value and prove ROI.“We’ve seen some significant increases in investment, adoption and understanding of Big Data as businesses recognise that traditional data management systems are no longer fit for purpose. Big Data is the future of smart, successful businesses and compared to 2018, many companies are well on their way to implementation.”