There’s so much hype about big data these days, industry observers such as Gartner Inc.’s Svetlana Sicular are beginning to express concern that it may dissuade companies from pursuing big data analytics initiatives.
Big data has plunged into the “trough of disillusionment,” according to Sicular. This includes disappointment that Sicular is seeing with her Hadoop clients who have “fascinating ideas” but are “disappointed with a difficulty of figuring out reliable solutions.”
Sicular raises some good points regarding the innate challenges of using big data. “Formulating a right question is always hard, but with big data, it is an order of magnitude harder, because you are blazing the trail (not grazing on the green field),” she notes.
Big trouble could be brewing for big data adoption in specific sectors and geographies.
Big data initiatives by governments in western Europe could fail to deliver sufficient returns on investment “due to narrowly focused technical implementations that take into account only the volume aspect of big data and neglect” the variety and velocity of data that’s available for use, according to an IDC Government Insights report.
On this side of the pond, managers for US federal agencies are seeing substantial opportunity for using big data. However, they also feel that they’re struggling to leverage the information that’s available due to inadequate resources, technological barriers and misaligned budget priorities.
Just 37% of 313 federal managers feel their agencies are taking the right steps to use big data to improve operations, according to a recent survey by Booz Allen Hamilton. Meanwhile, only 18% of the federal managers believe their agencies have sufficient proficiency in understanding large data sets.
Concerns about ROI and the usability of big data could hinder the willingness of senior executives to invest in big data initiatives.
To help gain executive buy-in with big data initiatives, IT leaders – working with big data cheerleaders on the business side – can start with small projects to show the business benefits of using structured and unstructured data sets together.
For example, by analyzing a mix of symptom data, patient comments and doctor’s notes, hospitals can improve patient management and outcomes.
Once big data champions are able to demonstrate the business and productivity benefits that can be gleaned from the use of big data with analytics and gain buy-in for further investments from senior management, companies can begin to use big data analytics to help identify and act on pressing business challenges.
Through its use of big data and analytics, H&R Block discovered that in the weeks leading up to the April 15 tax deadline, every question from prospective clients that it was unable to answer quickly meant a potential lost sale.
After launching a “Get It Right” social media campaign to give customers and prospects access to tax professionals through Facebook and Twitter, H&R Block has been able to answer one million questions, generating a 15% lift in business.
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