If your business hasn't already devoted some IT resources to Big Data, there's a good chance that it soon will.
A new study from data integration software specialist Informatica reveals that 70 percent of organizations are currently considering, planning, testing or running Big Data projects. Among those, 20 percent are already operating Big Data projects, 13 percent are currently in testing and 22 percent are in the planning stages.
Big Data Drivers
The 600 IT and business professionals polled for the survey cited a number of compelling reasons for embarking on Big Data initiatives. For the most part, they are seeking solutions that will turn them into leaner, more agile organizations that are better prepared to pounce on market opportunities.
Of those surveyed, 71 percent expect that leveraging more data will improve the efficiency of their business operations. Enhancing business agility was a strong driver for 51 percent of respondents. Fifty percent want to use Big Data to launch new products and services, while 49 percent have an eye on attracting and retaining customers.
Where Big Data goes, analytics isn't far behind. Forty-seven percent of respondents want to improve their analytics capabilities. A sizable number, 38 percent, plan to enlist technologies like the open source Apache Hadoop to lower IT costs, according to the survey.
More Data, More Problems
Although Big Data holds big promise for businesses, they are finding that it's not without challenges. Informatica's survey paints a vivid picture of the types of hurdles organizations are facing when it comes to effectively managing and squeezing out business value from huge stores of digital information.
Fifty-two percent of those polled identified a lack of maturity in tools as a top challenge, followed by a lack of real-time streaming data support at 39 percent. Poor data quality irked 38 percent of respondents, while data security and privacy raised concerns for 38 percent.
Another statistic reflects on a trend that's affecting the industry: the Big Data skills shortage. Informatica found 35 percent of respondents are struggling to find skilled developers, while 34 percent say they are hampered by Hadoop's "overly difficult development" environment.
Those concerns are well founded. In a recent Big Data market growth forecast from IDC, the research group warned, "Today there is a shortage of trained Big Data technology experts, in addition to a shortage of analytics experts."
Last year, the McKinsey Global Institute said in a report that organizations may want to look into training their own Big Data management and analytics experts to combat the skills shortage. "It will be necessary to retrain a significant amount of the talent in place; fortunately, this level of training does not require years of dedicated study," the report advised.
All Big Data's Not the Same
Informatica's survey also offers insights into the types of data businesses are struggling to leverage. The majority of respondents, 74 percent, are dealing with growing transaction volumes. Processing Big Data using Hadoop and NoSQL was a factor for 46 percent of respondents.
Thirty-five percent said that data derived from social media sources factored into their Big Data initiatives. Mobile and machine-generated data mattered to 31 percent and 22 percent of those surveyed, respectively.