A worrying proportion -- 40 percent -- of the Global 9,000 (the 9,000 public companies reporting $1 billion or more in revenue per year) are doing nothing, big data-wise.
Neglecting big data
We recently commissioned an independent survey (registration required) to find out what the Global 9,000 companies are doing with big data, the challenges they are dealing with, and what opportunities they see for generating value. We found just 26 percent of large corporations are working on big data projects, while another 34 percent are in the evaluating and planning phase. However, 40 percent say they have not evaluated their big data needs or have evaluated but do not plan to proceed.
If that weren't worrying enough, the research also spotlighted the systemic problems at the root of these numbers. Respondents who have decided against a big data project or are still hesitant say the major inhibitors are "not enough staff with expertise" and the "expected cost of big data initiatives."
What's so worrying is that the wide range of benefits -- the kind of exponential leap in understanding promised by customers' big data, thus bringing an end to wasted marketing efforts -- makes such inaction from these large companies shortsighted.
Focus on customer experience
For the majority of the Global 9,000 companies starting down the big data path, the biggest motivation is to gain better customer experience analysis. Customer insights, fraud prevention and analysis, market targeting, behavioral analysis, customer lifecycle analysis, and operations improvement were commonly cited project aims. Likewise, the big data apps companies are utilizing today include customer experience analysis, customer insights, market targeting/decision making, capacity forecasting, customer lifecycle management, fraud prevention and analysis, and network monitoring.
All in all, it's clear that understanding customers is the major motivation for these first adopters. And this underlines the point we have made in previous columns about starting with the problems that big data analysis might solve, rather than building big data architecture for architecture's sake before deciding what to do with it.
Survey respondents say they see or anticipate seeing benefits such as increased competitive advantage, superior customer targeting, improved efficiency, and the ability to make better decisions faster. In short, they are or will be able to speed by competitors.
Early adopters understand their customers
Organizations farsighted enough to become early adopters for big data clearly recognize the enormous business opportunity attached to understanding their customers better.
Of course, they are not going to be in a position to read customers' minds. But the intelligence to be gleaned about specific individuals from their purchasing behavior, likes, interests; the ability to match a profile to similar ones from social networking sites, search engines, or interest-specific social sites; and the ability to mine sentiments gleaned from Facebook Likes, positive tweets, Yelp reviews, and so on could result in knowledge that will be deep, targeted, and useful.
As a result, businesses will be able to be truly smart in predicting customers' needs and making more appealing offers for products or services we really want to buy. This is a huge and welcome leap, and it's why big data is a big deal.
Our shaky global economy makes big corporate budget commitments difficult for the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, business leaders and senior managers need to grasp the nettle. The skills gap -- if there is one -- will be short-lived, and many useful tools could help with any big data mission, easily offsetting the costs of development. Where there’s a will, if backed up by enough management support and leadership, there's surely a way.
Re: different strokes for different folks How long to wait? Pick your favorite metaphor
CIOs will get on board when... They feel competitors' breathing down their back... or all they feel is the rush of air as their competitors go by... or they hear crickets where customers once were... or my favorite, they feel like Han Solo and Chewbacca being run down by tie-fighters while they fumble to plug in the coordinates before triggering the jump to lightspeed
Re: different strokes for different folks Must be a hard choice for CIOs of all types to decide when that tipping point is. I agree with you that big data holds benefit, and I think that's obvious now. But the longer they wait on the sidelines, the harder it is to dip a toe in the water.
different strokes for different folks @Saul, I suspect that different industries carry different motivations for starting projects. Certainly improving efficiencies in healthcare, with a goal to improve both patient care and shrinking related costs will allow these organisations to gain a competitive advantage. My point on the concerns here are that there are still so many organisations that are willing to wait on the sidelines and not continue to pursue these types of initiatives. Mostly because I believe they have no choice, as the waves of data problems that they will continue to face are only going to become bigger and bigger.
Re: How the non-9000 live @legalcio, the bigger the company, the bigger the turning circle on all that legacy IT. I wonder if they are weighing the oppotunities up and just can't justify (at the moment) the amount of effort it will take to alter the entire way their IT infrastructure has been running.
User Rank: Exabyte Executive 2/20/2013 | 1:24:54 PM
Re: How the non-9000 live So is the message not getting out, or are the 9000 just not seeing the value in the message? There are enough examples of companies already leveraging Big Data, so why the slow adoption? Perhaps part of the reason is who is responsible in the organization for initiating a Big Data implementation. Is it the CIO? CMO? Combination of both? For R&D intensive companies, is it the Director of R&D? Best way to get the attention of senior management is to offer them a benchmark. Hey, here's what our competition is doing, don't you think we should be doing it too?
How the non-9000 live @Jeff we recently carried out a survey on the big data republic audience that revealed a different emphasis to these 9000 (we will be releasing the paper shortly). Rather than looking for more customer insight, the individuals we queried were predominantly looking for cost savings/increases in efficiency.
As a result, despite their reluctance/lack of big data capabilities, it would seem the Global 9,000 have got themselves into being billion+ organisations by being forward thinking (baring in mind that our respondants also came from government/healthcare backgrounds as well as other verticals). With that framework the lack of big data initaitves is pretty shocking.