August 18, 2017

Analytics Spending Up, Trust in Data Down

George Leopold

(sdecoret/Shutterstock)

Spending on data and analytics continues to surge despite growing uneasiness about the sources of unstructured big data that lacks traditional controls, a new survey warns.

KPMG found that a large majority (86 percent) of the 400 CEOs it interviewed have increased investments in data analytics over the last year. Of those, more than one-third characterized their data investments as “significant.” That, the business consultant notes, reflects changing attitudes about big data technology, which is increasingly viewed as an opportunity rather than a threat.

Despite the momentum, the annual KPMG CEO survey released on Friday (Aug. 18) reflects underlying concerns about where data is coming from and whether it can be trusted when making multi-million dollar decisions. Nearly half of those polled expressed doubts about the integrity of the massive data volumes they are coping with and whether they can trust it in making strategic decisions.

“Organizations are getting so much data and so many more types of data, such as from external sources, and in many cases these data are not governed by long relied-upon controls,” stressed Brad Fisher, KPMG’s data and analytics leader. Companies “need to have transparency in the data science processes to better understand and rely on the analytics. Only then will executives have more confidence in their decision making using data and analytics,” Fisher added.

Among the other digital concerns keeping CEOs awake at night are figuring out how to integrate cognitive computing and artificial intelligence into their operations. Most are considering machine learning and other tools to automate routine business processes, but determining how these tools mesh with more complicated processes remains a worry, the consulting firm found.

Those requirements may be good news for data scientists and other digital workers since a third of executives said they are “significantly’ increasing hiring as they roll out analytics and other technologies. Key positions include middle and senior management as well as R&D, with more companies looking to hire chief data officers.

A separate CDO survey released last year by Gartner Inc. found that analytics and data governance are among the highest priorities as companies chart their big data strategies. Gartner (NYSE: IT) found that more than half of companies it surveyed have hired CDOs.

Meanwhile, KPMG found that data analytics led the list of technology investments, with 61 percent of respondents saying they expect to increase spending over the next three years. Not far behind were cognitive technologies (58 percent) and the Internet of Things (55 percent).

In seeking to become what KPMG dubs “digitally-evolved” enterprises, the survey concludes that companies are increasingly “investing in data analytics, cognitive technologies and connecting more of their products, supply chain and customer touch points into an integrated, intelligent network.”

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