Big data: Big potential, big priority

By : |April 9, 2013 0

BANGALORE, INDIA: Enormous amounts of data are being generated daily by smartphones, sensors, video cameras, smart meters, and other connected devices, adding to the huge store of information from traditional sources.

This ‘data avalanche’ represents a potential gold mine of insights, but a new study commissioned by Cisco reveals that IT professionals and businesses are challenged to extract strategic value from their data.

Cisco’s Connected World Technology Report (CCWTR) surveyed IT professionals across 18 countries to examine the IT readiness, challenges, technology gaps, and strategic value of implementing Big Data projects.

While most companies are collecting, storing and analyzing data, the report reveals that many are struggling with both the business and IT challenges of Big Data. For example, while 60 per cent of survey respondents globally agreed that Big Data will help improve decision making and increase their competitiveness, only 28 per cent report they are currently generating strategic value from their data.

India Findings
Big Data, Big Potential: 82 per cent of respondents in India agreed that Big Data will help countries improve decision making and help them to be more globally competitive, globally 60 per cent of the respondents believed so.

Big Data, Big Priority: 4 in 5 IT managers in India (83 per cent) agree that Big Data will be a strategic priority for their companies in 2013 and over the next five years as well compared to 68 per cent globally.

Big Data Expected to Spur Investment in IT: 69 per cent of IT managers surveyed in India predict Big Data will increase budgets over the next three years (Global: 57 per cent).

Big Data expands the role of IT: More strategic, more partnership: Big Data presents an opportunity for IT to add value and create stronger relationships across lines of business that help the bottom line and increase revenue.

Data security (41 per cent), lack of time to study Big Data (19 per cent) and lack of solutions that fit need and expertise (11 per cent) were the top three concerns cited by Indian respondents that are hindering Big Data adoption.

Network traffic is doubling and tripling, driven by mobile devices, business applications, video, and Big Data – Almost half of IT managers surveyed in India (46 per cent) estimated networks loads to double over the next two years; while one in four (26 per cent) felt that this would triple in the next two years. However, only two out five surveyed (41 per cent) report they are ready for the surge in network traffic.

Global Findings:
Big Data could provide a competitive edge for those who can take advantage of data in new and creative ways.

Globally, 60 per cent of survey respondents said they believe Big Data can help businesses and countries to improve decision making and global competitiveness, with respondents in China (90 per cent), Mexico (85 per cent), India (82 per cent), Brazil (79 per cent) and Argentina (78 per cent). the most confident in Big Data project benefits.

Over two-thirds of IT managers agree that Big Data will be a strategic priority for their companies in 2013 and over the next five years as well. Scores were highest in Argentina (89 per cent), China (86 per cent), India (83 per cent), Mexico and Poland (both at 78 per cent).

What’s needed? More than a third (38 per cent) say that although they have a Big Data solution, they need a strategic plan to take advantage of Big Data.

Obstacles in gaining insights and realizing value
IT managers report several obstacles to adopting Big Data solutions: Security tops the list, followed by budget and staffing.

More than one in four respondents globally (27 per cent) said data security and risk management is a major concern. They cited the sheer volume of data, the number of ways to access data, and lack of budget for security as the top reasons why securing data in Big Data projects is such a challenge.

Security concerns were most prevalent in China (45 per cent), India (41 per cent), the US (36 per cent) and Brazil (33 per cent).

Together, lack of budget (16 per cent) and lack of time to study Big Data (14 per cent) are cited by a third of respondents as their main obstacles.

Almost one in four (23 per cent) said the lack of enough IT staff (13 per cent) or Big Data staff expertise (10 per cent) as main issues, especially in Japan (31 per cent) and Brazil (30 per cent).

Big Data expected to spur investment in IT
More than half of the IT respondents believe Big Data will affect increase their organizations’ IT budgets now and in the future based on technology, personnel and expertise requirements.

Over half the respondents expect Big Data strategies to increase their IT budgets in 2013.

Nearly three out of five (57 per cent) say Big Data will increase their budgets over the next three years.

Over four out of five surveyed (81 per cent) said all or some Big Data projects will require cloud computing capabilities. This was especially true in China (78 per cent) and India (76 per cent).

As a result, cloud adoption may affect the rate of adoption – and benefits – of Big Data efforts.

Nearly half of IT managers (48 per cent) estimated their network loads would double over the next two years, especially respondents in China (68 per cent) and Germany (60 per cent).

Nearly one in four (23 per cent) expect to see network loads triple over the next two years. Only two out five surveyed (40 per cent) report they are ready for a surge in network traffic.

Over one in four (27 per cent) say they will need better IT policies and security measures. Over one in five (21 per cent) say they will need more bandwidth.

IT Impact
Big Data expands the role of IT: More strategic, more partnership. Big Data presents an opportunity for IT to add value and create stronger relationships across lines of business that help the bottom line and increase revenue. Big Data projects can help provide opportunities for the IT department to become more of a strategic partner within their organizations.

Not surprisingly, three out of four respondents (73 per cent) said that the information technology department will drive their Big Data strategy. However, survey respondents said other lines of business will join IT in Big Data leadership, including: Finance (24 per cent), research and development (20 per cent), operations (20 per cent), engineering (19 per cent), marketing (15 per cent), and sales (14 per cent).

In Argentina, a high percentage (58 per cent) said finance will help drive Big Data. In China, a large number (61 percent) said Research and Development as well as Engineering (47 per cent) will help lead Big Data.

Big Data and IT staffing
Many companies are discovering that Big Data projects need to span multiple lines of business requiring new levels of intercompany collaboration. And while technology is important to Big Data solutions, people are needed with the special skill set and creativity to imagine and realize data’s full potential. There is a growing need for more IT professionals to be trained in this specialized area: for example, the ‘data scientists’ who transform raw data into information leading to discovery and insight, communicate what they’ve learned in creative and visual ways, and suggest business impact.

Almost one in four IT managers (22 per cent) say Big Data projects will significantly affect IT staffing, and over half (56 per cent) say it will have at least some impact.

When asked if they were personally ready to take advantage of Big Data opportunities, 35 per cent felt unreservedly ready, 36 per cent expressed their readiness but felt the technologies and solutions were lacking, and one out of four (24 per cent) did not feel ready at all.

Data in Motion: New data source leads to new opportunities
An important, but largely untapped, type of data is the real-time actionable data generated by sources such as devices, sensors and video, which often provide the most value while interacting in real time: Cisco calls this Data in Motion. The network can provide useful contextual information to Data in Motion such as a person or device’s location, identity and presence (whether they are ‘available’ or not).

This data can be used by applications to make decisions or take actions that are immediately relevant, or even to predict future events. Machine-to-machine communication in factory automation is an example where Data in Motion could be extremely valuable in optimizing a production process. According to the Cisco Visual Networking Index Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast for 2012 to 2017, there will be more than 1.7 billion machine-to-machine connections by 2017.

Three out of every four respondents (73 per cent) plan to include data from digital sensors, smart meters, video, and other nontraditional networked ‘smart devices’ into their Big Data plans.

Adoption is in the early stage: Only one-third of survey respondents globally (33 per cent) have a plan in place to take advantage of these new data sources.

The exceptions are China (64 per cent), India (59 per cent) and Argentina (50 per cent), where IT managers report their companies have already implemented plans to use these new data sources.

The data deluge: Where is all that data coming from?
Many types of information are collected and/or used today, including both structured and unstructured data.

Survey respondents cited these data sources as the most common for their companies:

o 74 percent are gathering current data.
o 55 percent have collected historical data.
o 48 percent bring in data from monitors and sensors.
o 40 percent take advantage of real-time data that is used and then discarded. Countries with a much higher usage of real-time data were: India (62 percent), the U.S. (60 percent) and Argentina (58 percent).
o 32 percent are collecting unstructured data, such as video. At 56 percent China is well above the global average for gathering unstructured data.

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