Another survey we ran in 2012 was conducted at a Big Data event we sponsored in London – Big Data Analytics 2012. This was a full day event that featured presentations from vendors and customers on their Big Data projects, or aspirations, as the case may be. While it was a relatively small show – a few hundred people – we managed to poll a representative sample in our booth to ask about the status of their Big Data thinking and activity.
First, we asked what concerned people the most about the concept of Big Data. The responses ranged from:
- Our organization is not ready for it
- We don’t have the people and skills to manage it
- We are unclear on its business value
- It will require new technologies to learn and support
- I am unconcerned and comfortable with the concept
Interestingly, the most concern was the need to learn and support new technologies. A much smaller percentage of people were unclear on its business value – but an equal number were unconcerned and comfortable with the concept. This seems to indicate that there is a wide array of sentiment about whether Big Data will be manageable or even valuable to the business.
Next we asked about who was encouraging the investigation into or deployment of a Big Data initiative in the organization. The options included various functional departments such as sales, marketing, finance, the manufacturing or product/service organization, IT, the executive staff, or no one. Not surprisingly, IT is the primary driver with 41% of responses. But the second most frequent response was “executive staff.” Clearly, the Big Data buzz and hype has reached the C-suite. Combined, the various functional department options totaled to only 3% more than the executive staff answer. This would indicate that most feel there is either an IT benefit to be gained, or perhaps only a cost savings benefit, given that there was no one non-IT functional department that is pushing for Big Data Analytics.
As the conference was focused on Big Data Analytics and what could be gained from deploying Big Data technologies, it made sense to ask about the role their current analytical foundation – the data warehouse – would play in a Big Data initiative. By nearly 2-to-1, attendees either agreed or strongly agreed that the data warehouse would be a critical foundation for delivering Big Data Analytics. And among those who agreed, nearly twice as many “strongly agreed.” This result is not terribly surprising, and it supports the notion that while Big Data may require new technologies to learn and support – the number one concern! – existing investments in data warehouses will also play a key role. Big Data projects could therefore be perceived as evolutionary rather than revolutionary.
Finally, we asked about project times frames. Only 15% had a Big Data Analytics project underway and another 37% planned to do something within 1 year. However, 26% have no timeline in place. This would seem to imply that we are in the early stages of adoption, and over time we’d expect to begin seeing customer stories about business value – or not – from Big Data projects.
What do you think of these results, and what are your company’s plans?