January 4, 2013

Big Data Applications Not Meeting Expectations

Ian Armas Foster

Now that the calendar has turned over to 2013, it is as good a time as any to check in on how big corporations are faring with big data.

The answer? According to an Actuate study, not that well. The study showed that 49% of companies overall are not planning on even evaluating big data, including 40% of companies that take in revenues of over a billion dollars. Meanwhile, only 19% of companies have implemented big data, including 26% of billion-plus revenue streams. The remaining are either planning big data applications (10% overall, 12% billion-plus) or evaluating its viability.

Where is the disconnect? According to the study, the problem lies in both a lack of expertise in handling big data and an unease regarding the cost of possible initiatives. Noting the fact that the plurality of companies are turning to Hadoop, either through Apache itself or the vendor Cloudera, that disconnect makes a little more sense. After all, it is well documented that the talent to make sense of and work in Hadoop does not quite reach the demand.

If an institution feels they do not have the talent to implement and run a big data application, they are less likely to spend money developing one. With that said, a number of corporations are using big data, and the Actuate study noted which applications were most common.

 The top three all relate to each other in customer insights (20% overall, 38% billion-plus), customer experience analysis (29% overall, 38% billion-plus), and marketing targeting (28% overall, 36% billion-plus). Since the average of total applications run per company was about three, it would make sense for a plurality of institutions to be running all three of the above applications.

Despite nearly half of companies overall not planning any big data initiatives, a majority still see a bright future for those who do, particularly those in high-revenue companies. Over half of the people surveyed in billion-plus revenue corporations cited big data would improve efficiency and customer targeting along with more general goals such as increased competitiveness and making better and faster decisions.

That fits with the applications companies are running, as many look to collect and analyze customer data to better market to the consumer.

However, based on the actual application implementation figures, there remains a gap between the expectation of big data and its realization.

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