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September 8, 2014

Survey: Big Data Deployments Reaching ‘Tipping Point’

Most big data deployments are still being evaluated but may be approaching a “tipping point” as they move toward production, according to big data market researcher Wikibon.

Wikibon analysts stressed that much of its recent survey data represents the sentiments of early adopters of big data analytics, adding that analytics technologies are still “relatively immature.” Another Wikibon survey last year concluded that nearly half of big data practitioners had yet to realize a return on their data analytics investment.

Despite technology challenges like data integration and plugging data analytics into existing infrastructure, the market researcher found in the latest survey that many respondents now consider data analytics to be “transformational.” Wikibon added that products like Hadoop and NoSQL “are already disrupting traditional data management and analytics approaches in the enterprise.”

Wikibon said its survey of 303 U.S. data analytics professionals in May found that the “vast majority” believe data analytics will have significant impact on future competitiveness. Of those, 46 percent view it as a “new source” of competitive advantage while another 46 percent thinks it will complement to existing data warehouse and business intelligence operations.

While respondents in the previous survey fretted over return on investment, only 8 percent of current respondents said data analytics technologies would be “nice to have.” Just 1 percent considered big data merely a hyped technology or a set of tactical tools and technologies.

The survey stressed the importance of actual deployments as a way to accurately gauge the business impact of data analytics. “The technology must first be deployed and operating successfully before data can be analyzed for insights,” the authors stressed. “This is yet another indication of just how early we are in the days of big data analytics.”

The survey found that 69 percent of respondents said their organizations were either evaluating analytics projects—including use cases, technologies and vendors—or projects remained in the proof-of-concept phase. Only 31 percent said their data analytics projects were in production supporting “mission critical” applications.

Contrary to Wikibon’s earlier reporting on concerns over reaping the benefits of big data analytics investments, the majority of respondents to the May 2014 survey (58 percent) said “so far so good” in assessing the status of analytics projects. That sentiment included at least a partial return on investment and data projects that are viewed as “headed in the right direction.”

Forty-one percent reported success and “full value [for] our financial investment” while only 2 percent said they had “hit an impasse” with ongoing data projects.

Still, the market analyst said the surprisingly high level of satisfaction likely reflects relatively low-risk investments made so far in big data analytics technologies. It also warned of a “schism” between IT administrators who remain sanguine about analytics rollouts and data practitioners who continue to struggle to extract concrete insights from big data.

Wikibon again stressed the division illustrates how data analytics technology has yet to fully advance to the production stage.

There was little disagreement, however, about one key aspect of analytics: data volumes continue to surge. The survey found that volumes for most analytics deployments range from 50 to 100 terabytes, blending two or more data sources, Wikibon found.

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