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November 4, 2014

Big Data Going Mainstream, Corporate Survey Finds

Conventional wisdom has it that inside the enterprise mostly data scientist and analysts along with perhaps a few CIOs are invested in big data and analytics. A new “executive” survey by the business strategy consultant NewVantage Partners begs to differ, concluding that most of the senior executives it surveyed “are invested in the success of Big Data.”

That growing share of corporate mind share is believed to be behind bullish projections for corporate investment in big data and analytics over the next four years: NewVenture Partners forecasts investment growth as high as 75 percent through 2017. The survey did not provide a total investment forecast, but did say as much as 28 percent of planned investments in big data tool could individually top $50 million.

The survey’s authors made much of the fact that 125 corporate executives representing 59 Fortune 1000 companies participated in this year’s survey. Seventy-eight percent of respondents work in financial services, but health care and life sciences (12 percent) along with media, energy and defense electronics executives also participated. Hence, the survey stressed, “Big Data has been integrated into the business and technology mainstream” as investment surges and big data initiatives enter the production phase in more companies.

As budgets grow, the chief data officer also is emerging as a player in the executive suite, the survey found. For example, only 19 percent of corporations had named a data chief in 2012, the first year NewVantage Partners conducted its survey. That figure jumped to 43 percent in the survey released this week.

NewVantage said CDOs constituted 31 percent of respondents, but the views of CIOs (also 31 percent) and CTOs (21 percent) were well represented in the big data survey.

“Corporations are recognizing that data is a critical corporate asset and are grappling with how best to organize and manage to support Big Data and analytics initiatives,” the survey concluded.

Hence, big data initiatives long championed largely by data analysts are now being “driven from the top, with senior executive sponsorship commitment,” the survey concluded. Most companies without current big data initiatives have them in the pipeline.

Respondents view big data and analytics “as providing significant business benefits—greater insight and learning, the ability to obtain answers and make decisions faster and in a more informed manner, greater agility and flexibility,” the survey found.

By contrast, “technology selection” was not seen as critical as big data projects ramp up: Only 4 percent of executives surveyed said technology choices were critical to the success of big data projects. Hence, data analytics vendors may still have their work cut out for them in differentiating their big data platforms as corporate spending continues to rise.

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