Big wins from big data for early movers

Only a few short months ago, the skeptics were out in force and shorting the idea of big data and its potential. It looks like they spoke too soon. Research (as opposed to often lazy opinion) tells a very clear story: early adopters are reporting overwhelmingly positive results about their initial experiences.

The study, called “Big success with big data” indicates that more than 90 per cent of senior executives report satisfaction with their projects. Frankly that’s a remarkably good result for any technology project — in a new field with a lot of complexity, especially so.

According to the study authors, “Big data is clearly delivering significant value to users who have actually completed a project, according to survey results. The vast majority (92 per cent) of all users report they are satisfied with business outcomes, and 94 per cent feel their big data implementation meets their needs.

The report suggests larger companies in particular have heeded the message, describing big data as extremely important and central to their digital strategy.

Some description

The key to success, especially at the high end, is to start small and ensure plenty of engagement with both the CIO and the wider C-Suite.

Rather than doing everything at once, say the authors, the more successful approach appears to be to focus resources around proving value in one area, “… and then letting the results cascade across the wider enterprise. The mantra here could be ‘start local, end global,’ as users focus on practical applications such as customer support, build internal support, and concentrate on desired outcomes.

The study identifies five key themes:

  1. Big data is taking off Users that have completed at least one project are very satisfied with their initial forays into big data. The vast majority who have completed their projects report that they are satisfied with business outcomes and that their big data initiative is meeting their needs.
  2. Bigger companies are getting more from big data The bigger the organisation, the better the results — perhaps because they bring more to the table. Larger organisations are leading the way by starting with focused initiatives, rather than trying to do everything at once.
  3. Big data demands broad learning Users begin big data projects thinking it will be easy, only to discover that there is a lot to learn about data as an asset and about analytics.
  4. Help needed With big data talent in short supply, successful users source skills wherever they can find them, leaning heavily on external, experienced resources.
  5. Big data is definitely disruptive, potentially transformational Big data brings disruption that can revolutionise business.

Big plans for big data

A vast majority of users (89 per cent) believe big data will revolutionise business operations in the same way the Internet did. Nearly as many (85 per cent) feel big data will dramatically change the way they do business,” according to the report.

A huge majority of participants in the study saw big data as both a disruptive necessity and a requirement for survivial. “Almost eight in ten users (79 per cent) agree that ‘companies that do not embrace big data will lose their competitive position and may even face extinction.’ Even more (83 per cent) have pursued big data projects in order to seize a competitive edge.

The other trend clear from the study is that big data is seen as part of a transformative approach to business, rather than simply an IT project (which also helps explain the C-suite engagement). Early adopters see competitive advantage in big data, says Accenture. “[They] are rapidly moving to disrupt their own data practices, rather than let competitors beat them to the punch.

Perceptions about big data’s disruptive power are not confined to technology organisations. Users see a new competitive weapon in play across industries and geographies, from businesses such as financial services and insurance, to practitioners such as postal services and governments.

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