6 Trends That Go Beyond the Buzz of Big Data

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It seems that there's as much substance as there is hype around Big Data. According to the study “Big Data Executive Survey 2013: The State of Big Data in the Large Corporate World,” by consultancy and analyst firm NewVantage Partners, 91% of Fortune 1000 senior executives report that their organization has a Big Data initiative in place, or is planning one. Of those respondents, 60% say that they've implemented a Big Data initiative. And 32% of executives note that their firm's Big Data initiative is already operationalized across the organization. NewVantage Partners defines Big Data as “new database management and analytical approaches developed for analyzing, storing, and manipulating large or complex data.” 

NewVantage Partners surveyed C-level and other senior executives from across disciplines, but emphasizes the value of the findings to marketers. “Big Data initiatives may have their greatest impact on marketing effectiveness,” says Randy Bean, managing partner, NewVantage Partners.  “Our Big Data executive survey indicated that marketing and sales were the primary drivers of Big Data corporate investments:  77% of executives indicated that marketing and sales were the business functions driving Big Data investment; 87% noted the need to accelerate time-to-answer for critical business questions. CMOs stand to be the greatest beneficiaries of Big Data.”

Based on responses from executives from organizations such as American Express, Bank of America, CVS Caremark, Johnson & Johnson, Kaiser Permanente, and Wells Fargo Bank, NewVantage Partners surmise the following:

1. Investment in Big Data is on the rise

According to the survey, 68% of executives expect their organizations to invest more than $1 million on Big Data initiatives in 2013. The percentage of companies investing more than $10 million is expected to rise from 19% in 2013 to 50% in 2016. Additionally, the number of organizations investing $50 million or more is projected to increase from 6% in 2013 to 14% in 2016.

2. C-suite sponsorship is essential to adoption

Respondents perceive executive sponsorship as the most important factor to ensuring successful adoption of Big Data within a large corporation. In fact, 83% of executives cite this as a critical factor.

3. Big Data is about variety, volume, and analytical velocity

Most executives responding to the 2012 NewVantage survey cited “the need to integrate a greater variety of data sources” as their main focus with Big Data. Findings of the 2013 survey show that a nearly equal number of respondents cite variety (82%), volume (81%), and analytical velocity (87%)—which NewVantage defines as the speed by which organizations can obtain answers to critical business questions—as the primary benefit they expect to gain from their Big Data initiatives.

4. Accelerating time-to-answer is a core success measure

Respondents' attraction to Big Data is primarily its likelihood to help them make better, fact-based decisions. Additionally, these executives cite as valuable the ability of Big Data initiatives to accelerate the speed with which their organization can gain insight, thus answer critical business questions. As a result, 87% of respondents consider the accelerating time-to-answer as an essential metric for successful Big Data initiatives.

5. New roles and processes support are necessary

Nearly half of respondents' companies (48%) are considering or appointing executives to new roles, such as chief data officer. Another 26% already have a chief data officer in place. And 42% is launching change management initiatives like new processes and updating organizational structures to support the adoption of Big Data. 

6. New technologies are essential to Big Data success

A significant number of respondents note that their organizations are implementing database management technologies such as Aster, Hadoop, and Netezza, as well as analytics solutions such as Revolution R, SAS, and Tableau, to sustain their Big Data initiatives.

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