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October 8, 2013

Survey: Big Data a Low Priority Among Governments in U.S.

Isaac Lopez

While funding debates rage in Washington D.C., a new survey reveals that big data is the lowest IT priority among federal, state, and local government IT decision makers.

The survey, conducted last month by Clarus Research Group for Cisco, examined funding priorities in IT over the next year, including cybersecurity, cloud, networking, video conferencing, data center, broadband, collaboration solutions, and big data. Of these priorities, big data came in last with the lowest amount of increase in investment, with only 28% of those polled saying that they’d be increasing their investment over the next year.

The numbers come as a stark contrast of what is happening in the private sector. Analyst firm Gartner Research recently found that 64 percent of organizations were investing or had plans to invest in big data technology in 2013 – a 6% increase from the year before. Gartner reports that currently 38 percent of organizations in North America are currently invested in big data technology.

The Clarus study shows a disconnect in the hype around big data and the level of uptake that is happening in the public sector. With sequestration cuts hanging over these governmental branches, innovation in technologies that are relatively unproven is taking a back seat to other priorities. According to the Clarus survey, reducing costs and improving security are the top two priorities for government IT decision makers.

Survey respondents rated the attacks from Washington D.C. (by way of the incredible shrinking budgets) as the number one threat to their IT infrastructure. “The most important finding is the fact that there is so much focus on the budget,” said Larry Payne, president of Cisco’s U.S. federal organization in a recent article. “Obviously, this is not something new. We’ve been seeing our customers being very budget conscious. They continue to look for ways to reduce their costs and have been for the several years, but in the last year they took that to a whole new level.”

Also interesting to the big data minded were the attitudes revealed in the survey about the so-called “Internet of Everything” (IOE), the connected web of sensors that promises to take the concept of big data to a whole new realm. Only 15% of respondents said they were familiar with the IOE concept, with 41 percent saying that they were not familiar at all. According to the survey, 42% of the respondents were somewhat familiar.

However, for those respondents who are familiar with IOE concepts, they see its potential in enabling new services (34%), streamlining processes (29%), and reducing costs (22%).

With reducing costs, improving security, boosting efficiency, and improving delivery of services all rated among the top technology goals by these governmental IT decision-makers, solution providers in the big data arena have their work cut out for them raise awareness on how their solutions can address these needs.

However, with the budget battles in D.C. having no end in sight, the challenge will be convincing IT leaders that big data should be a priority.

Related items:

The Big Data Market By the Numbers

Big Data’s Evolving Role in Government Economic Policy 

Venturing Into the Great Unknown with YarcData