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October 14, 2015

Survey: More Data Sources Making it Tougher to Herd

George Leopold

Analytics on an enterprise scale increasingly requires huge and varied data sources, both internal and external, but data quality remains a priority as well as a challenge, according to an industry survey of how companies are attempting to scale up their data analytics operations.

The analytics study was commissioned by Pentaho, the business analytics arm of Hitachi Data Systems, and conducted by Forrester Consulting. The market watcher surveyed 164 U.S. and U.K. business and IT executives responsible for data governance. The survey found that “organizations are scrambling to keep up with evolving business needs for data while trying to maintain quality and security.”

Just over half (52 percent) of executives surveyed said they blend 50 or more distinct data sources as a way to leverage analytics capabilities. About one-third said they blend more than 100 sources while 12 percent combine more than 1,000 data sources as they scale enterprise analytics efforts.

Lingering distrust over the quality and utility of corporate big data remains an issue, the survey confirmed. Data quality topped the list of data governance issues, along with security and privacy, with more than 60 percent of respondents citing those challenges. The findings support assertions by some observers that companies understand they need a big data strategy but are unsure exactly what to do with growing data volumes. In other words, new use cases beyond, for example, digital marketing are required.

Indeed, accuracy of data was listed most often among more than half of respondents, an indication that “data must also be current and trustworthy,” Forrester concluded.

The survey also confirmed the notion that “all data is not created equal.” For example, it found that “on-premise, transactional data” is more closely guarded by those overseeing data governance, with 53 percent of respondents saying they keep a tighter grip on this proprietary data. However, customer data, which study sponsor Pentaho argued is critical to enterprise growth strategies, remains in a “relatively chaotic state” with only 35 percent of respondents giving it high priority.

“Mature organizations use governance as a tool to drive strategic and growth imperatives, while others focus on more conservative benefits like compliance and risk reduction,” the survey found.

Among the survey’s recommendations are tailoring data governance to the context of data use and adopting data integration approaches that support data governance rules and standards across all data types. “Data integration tools that simplify the development and oversight of processes for data professionals to deliver governed data will be critical,” the survey authors stressed.

Pentaho’s stake in the survey results relates to promoting it big data orchestration platform advertised as being geared toward data governance and making it easier to blend diverse data as enterprises scale their analytics capabilities.

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