Research Brief: 2012 Big Data Attitudes and Perceptions
Commissioned by Connotate
Enterprises are Committed to Big Data – Despite the Challenges
Enterprises are committed to moving forward with Big Data initiatives to unearth new insights, create revenue opportunities, streamline operations and achieve other business objectives – despite the lack of consensus on a clear definition of “Big Data” and the difficulties encountered in measuring its return on investment (ROI), according to a new study commissioned by Connotate, Inc.
Garnering more than twice the number of responses as last year, the survey reflects opinions collected from over 800 C-level executives, content managers, data analysts and technology professionals, representing a cross-section of industries including retail, energy, manufacturing, health care, financial services, information technology and news/media. Big Data is indeed big news, as an October 2012 study by Gartner Group notes that spending on Big Data is predicted to grow to $34 billion worldwide in 2013.
Key Findings: (Click here to view survey questions and charted results.)
No Consensus on Big Data Definition
When asked to select a definition of Big Data from a list of choices, more than one in five survey respondents indicated they either don’t know or haven’t decided what “Big Data” really means. The results among those that did select a definition revealed a shift from last year; more respondents now include Web content as an integral part of the Big Data picture – implying a blurring, if not a dismantling, of the traditional boundaries around the enterprise information storehouse.
Figure 1: Big Data Definition - 2011 vs 2012
Figure 1 shows a comparison of Big Data definitions from 2011 vs 2012.
On a related note, results revealed a decline in the number of organizations (54%) identifying themselves as using manual processes as a component of their monitoring and collection process for Web data compared to 2011 (over 60%). This may indicate a shift towards adopting automated solutions for Web data collection, allowing employees to spend more time on the strategic aspects of Big Data projects, such as planning and analysis.
Figure 2: How Companies are Collecting Web-based Data and Content
2011 vs 2012
Figure 2 compares the collection processes used in 2011 vs 2012
Tools Used for Big Data Initiatives
Over 70% of survey participants reported that their organizations use search engines to address Big Data, while 55 % also use Web data extraction and monitoring tools and methodologies. Focusing in on the Web data used for Big Data initiatives, the results indicate that organizations are using a combination of solutions to collect Web data, including home-grown tools (40%), commercial Web data aggregation (50%) and manual efforts (54%). (Respondents were invited to check off more than one choice.)
Big Data Challenges
Adopting a new technology always presents challenges to an organization, and Big Data is no exception. Interestingly, the top challenge cited by nearly half of the 2012 survey respondents is identical to last year’s top choice – the manpower required to collect and analyze data. However, only 12% of this year’s respondents indicated the task “just wasn’t worth the value to the organization” – much less than last year. This indicates that more organizations are recognizing the value embarking on a Big Data project, even though it isn’t easy.
In addition to the manpower requirement, another 23% indicated that the volume of information was the greatest challenge to effectively leveraging Big Data for business purposes. Together, these results suggest that there is room for highly scalable, automated data monitoring and extraction technologies within the market.
The Value of Big Data
Although 80% of respondents replied that it was either not possible or too early to measure ROI, enterprises are moving ahead with these projects for a variety of objectives. Nearly 50% of the organizations surveyed are using Big Data for competitive monitoring; over 40% cited brand monitoring and 38% indicated the goal of obtaining pricing and product information. (Respondents were invited to select more than one choice.) This supports the findings reported in the October 2012 IDC Analyst Connection which notes that global CEOs are looking to Big Data on the Web to understand their customers and competitors. In addition, two out of five respondents said they are launching Big Data initiatives to create new revenue-generating data services.
Looking ahead, the survey asked respondents to predict possible effects of Big Data on cloud computing. Although more than 60% found it too early to tell, a significant percentage (29%) felt that security loomed as a major concern; almost 10% percent indicated that it would increase the cost of cloud computing.
Big “Web” Data Spend on the Rise
Although many organizations have not yet measured the ROI of their Big Data projects, they are still allocating significant budget to Web monitoring and collection initiatives. Of those surveyed, budgets varied from over $250,000 (18%) to less than $10,000 (21%). Companies budgeting more than $50,000 per year for Web monitoring and collection increased by 6% (from 61% in 2011 to 67% in 2012).
Overall, the survey results suggest that enterprises today are committed to transforming Big Data – including Web content – into powerful information assets, despite the challenges and lack of ROI proof. More and more, companies are turning to automation to achieve greater productivity and economies of scale from their Big Data/Web Data initiatives.