Less focus is needed on volume - it’s about how you can use it and what it represents
At nearly every event, conference and customer meeting this year, Big Data has come up in conversation. There’s always lots of debate about size - how much data you need to work with, whether it’s gigabytes, terabytes or petabytes; speed - how quickly new data is being generated, coming from more and faster streams of events and variety; the numerous ways in which that data is represented; whether it has different structures, or no structure at all. Very little attention is paid to how companies actually put their data to use - to help them make incisive, real-time changes to their businesses.
This quarter we asked an independent survey company to put that question to 300 CIO’s across the UK, France and Germany. The findings were pretty revealing.
Whilst a large number of enterprises are collecting their data - albeit mainly for compliance (ticking the box?) purposes, very few are analysing their historical and live data across multiple sources, and make real-time business decisions. Based on these results - which incidentally back up what we often hear anecdotally from customers across Europe - it’s my view that there’s a chasm, a “data divide”, that is emerging between companies that can and are exploiting their data, and those that aren’t.
Some of the key findings from the research include:
- The average UK enterprise sits on 658TB of data, yet little more than one-third of them currently use any of their data to exploit momentary business opportunities, compared to 53 percent in Germany and 43 percent in France.
- The majority of CIOs are acutely aware of the potential damage of being caught on the wrong side of this data divide. In fact, 21 percent expect that not being able to identify and act upon short-lived opportunities will have a ‘catastrophic’ impact on their businesses in the future; 36 percent believe the impact will be significant, while a further 36 percent expect a moderate impact. Only six percent believe that it would have no effect on their business activities.
- Of the estimated 62 percent of enterprises that have yet to cross the data divide, 47 percent of UK enterprises state that they hope to use their data to make changes to their businesses ‘eventually’. Less encouraging is the 12 percent of UK enterprises that use their data ‘for compliance purposes only’ and worse still, the two percent that do nothing whatsoever with their data.
It’s pretty logical to see that if you can collect, understand and act on your data in real-time, you can anticipate what’s coming around the corner and be ready to take advantage of it. This gives you precious leverage over your competition. It’s what we call the two-second advantage. You might use the information to drive sales, to maximise new revenue opportunities, or you might use it to head off a problem before it becomes a crisis, all the while managing your risks. It’s about confidently using the insights data gives you to make better decisions, and knowing those decisions are really well informed.
So what advice can we offer? If you aren’t yet in a position where you are collecting and analysing your data, and acting on what it tells you fast - get on to it. By talking to the business and outlining the benefits that data understanding can offer - rather than cost - the business, the counter arguments of constraints on budget and resources will diminish.
For more of our thoughts on this important research and the differences we see across the UK, France and Germany, we made a short video clip which might answer any questions you have - you can watch it here.
Likewise, if you have any thoughts to contribute on how your business is using data today, please comment here and I’ll do my best to reply.
Mark Darbyshire, EMEA CTO, TIBCO