“Big Data” Is Moving Beyond Domains of Business Strategists, Finance, IT analysts, Onto Desks of Workers Across Broader Range of Departments, Including HR, Sales, Marketing
London — According to a new survey from SAP UK, a subsidiary of SAP AG (NYSE: SAP), “big data” has outgrown its traditional roots in IT and finance. It is now playing an increasingly important role in sales, research and development (R&D) and human resources (HR), accounting for 42 percent of big data usage in business.
Although IT and finance remain the primary users of big data (46 percent), the other business areas across different industries are increasingly adopting big data tools to drive revenues and internal organisational change. Together they account for nearly half of all big data usage, including marketing (13 percent), sales (11 percent), and R&D and HR (nine percent each).
Big data has penetrated companies’ senior management, with 81 percent saying big data is being integrated into projects. The vast majority of businesses (61 percent) have confirmed that they have made budget provisions for big data projects to help drive productivity, efficiencies and growth opportunities.
Now on the agenda of so many organisations, SAP is calling on business leaders to start thinking about how their companies are using big data, and whether employees are being provided with enough training to get the most out of these powerful tools.
“Business are waking up to the power of big data and it is great to see its benefits being realised across UK businesses,” said Adrian Simpson, chief innovation officer, SAP UK. “We need to ensure that staff using these services understand how they can extract and analyse the information they need quickly in one shot. With real-time data, users have access to information to make quick decisions that have a real business impact. It is vital that businesses invest in training staff to be fluent in these services and processes to add value back into the business.”
The survey found that efficiency and performance stand out as the single most common driver for big data analysis (37 percent) — over twice as important as the next biggest driver around reporting and analytics. This is followed by fairly equal ratings for the remaining four areas, although there are significant variations among the five market sectors, which saw a variety of concerns and priorities around how big data is being used. These sectors include:
- Financial services: There is more concern about efficiency and performance (46 percent) and less about cost savings
- Public sector: Top priority is efficiency at the expense of customer service
- Retail: Reporting and analytics shares equal importance (29 percent) with efficiency
- Telecommunications: Data quality is the top priority (27 percent) while reporting and analytics is lowest priority (seven percent)
- Utilities: Lowest interest is in efficiency (22 percent) alongside above-average interest in cost savings (22 percent) and customer service (25 percent)
The survey questioned 100 executives from leading organisations across the financial services, public sector, retail, telecommunications and utilities markets. With a growing interest in big data across the spectrum of business, the survey highlights the importance of having access to insightful and valuable data that makes an impact to businesses. The main challenges that businesses face include accessing relevant data quickly and efficiently as well as ensuring that data analysis is useful and insightful.
Big data is a key part of respondents’ budgets, ranging from the highest figures for retail and the public sector (both 73 percent) down to just 37 percent for utilities. The survey also found that the majority of respondents (54 percent) have big data projects scheduled for implementation within 18 months, with most of the projects planned for the next six months. This revolution in adoption is being led by the consumerisation of IT as advances in user interfaces and simplification of analytical tools enables non-technical users to deal with big data quickly.
Behaviours around big data usage between the industries differed. Retail sees ROI and managing real-time data as the two key areas (25 percent each), whereas the financial services industry see access to data and having insightful data as the two most important areas (26 percent each).
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