Big Data Comes with Benefits, But Also a Long List of Issues: Survey

A majority of business executives and IT leaders believe in the importance of Big Data in making decisions, according to a new survey commissioned by global consulting firm Capgemini and conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit. At the same time, however, those respondents cited a variety of issues facing any company hoping to leverage data for higher profits and more intelligent strategy.

Capgemini and The Economist Intelligence Unit interviewed 600 C-level executives, senior management and “IT leaders” worldwide, from more than 20 industries. Around 43 percent of respondents were C-level, with the rest a mix of vice presidents and business-unit or department heads. Some 168 of those executives (28 percent) came from North America.

Despite the increased importance placed on data—roughly nine out of ten executives believed the importance of data to their business equaled that of land, labor, and capital—those surveyed also cited some issues related to it. For starters, some 44 percent of the North American respondents reported that an increasing amount of external and internal data had slowed their decision-making; and 84 percent reported an issue with analyzing and acting on data in a timely manner.

“The exploitation of Big Data is fueling a major change in the quality of business decision-making, requiring organizations to adopt new and more effective methods to obtain the most meaningful results,” Scott Schlesinger, Capgemini’s vice president and head of Business Information Management, wrote in a June 12 statement. “Organizations that do so will be able to monitor customer behaviors and market conditions with greater certainty.”

Big Data, Big Issues

Yet the issues didn’t stop with slower decision-making. Around 54 percent of the North American respondents reported a lack of workers skilled in data analysis as a “key impediment” to Big Data, along with lack of time (46 percent) and the difficulties inherent in managing reams of unstructured data (39 percent). Organizational silos, which presumably impede workers’ ability to share data between different parts of a business, were cited as still another problem by 51 percent. Data inaccuracies (71 percent) and lack of data automation (62 percent) also ranked high on that list of concerns.

In other words, companies certainly seem ready to at least try out a data-analysis platform, and see if that somehow translates into stronger revenue. As with any complex technology, though, barriers—possibly a lot of barriers, depending on the company—stand in the way of adoption.


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