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What Businesses Really Think Of Big Data

This week was a busy one for Big Data. Oracle released its quarterly earnings report revealing impressive growth in its SaaS data analytics operations, predicted by analysts to soon outgrow current market leader Salesforce. At the same time, BlackBerry published its own quarterly figures, eyed closely by the industry as the firm tries to make up for declining smartphone sales with new enterprise cloud and data analytics ventures. Throughout it all, venture capitalists almost entirely focused their investments in startups operating within the Big Data and SaaS space.

The world’s largest technology companies are clamoring for their share of the market, while startups recognize how quickly the space is growing — and gaining valuation. The movement is all based on the premise that businesses today demand solutions to aggregate, store and analyze data to improve everything from inventory management to cash flow.

But what do companies really think about Big Data? Through the flurry of Big Data investment and competition last week, two new studies emerged revealing what, exactly, corporations are looking for in a data service provider.

Big Data Is Not A Sure Win

First, the bad news: For all of the giant conglomerates and innovative startups making their mark in the Big Data market, businesses still aren’t seeing their data needs met by what is being offered today.

A new study sponsored by Cloudera published last week found data security to be a monumental concern among businesses. The majority of companies surveyed in the report either have a Big Data application plan or will have one implemented in the next two years. But the type of data being aggregated by their systems need to be closely guarded.

Nearly three-quarters of collected data, the businesses said, contain personal identifying information. An additional 72 percent contain business information. More than 80 percent of the data requires a certain level of security compliance.

These findings, said the study’s author SANS Senior Analyst and Health Care IT Specialist Barbara Filkins, mean Data-as-a-Service providers have to meet these security demands when developing their enterprise data solutions. “Especially with the volumes of data being stored and the diversity of users accessing it,” she wrote in the report, “information governance is a critical part of Big Data applications.”

DaaS providers are not meeting these security requirements according to their business clients, and to fill this gap, more than one-fifth of those surveyed said they are turning to a secondary source to make their data confidently secure.

A separate study, also published last week, revealed even more challenges faced by businesses when they seek to implement a Big Data strategy. In a survey commissioned by CA Technologies, researchers found five main obstacles that prevent successful implementation of a Big Data project: insufficient existing infrastructure, organizational complexity, security and compliance concerns, a lack of budget or resources and a lack of visibility into processes and information.

Data security and compliance remain in the front of businesses’ minds when it comes to Big Data, but clearly, there are many more factors that need to be considered by DaaS providers when meeting the needs of their clients.

Meeting The Challenges

Now, the good news: All of the hype surrounding Data-as-a-Service is not in vain, even with all of the challenges and shortcomings noted by businesses.

CA Technologies’ findings also concluded that nearly all businesses surveyed (90 percent) agree that Big Data tools are helping them more accurately target their customers, while 88 percent are either already experiencing or expect to see increased revenue as a result of data analytics. A similarly impressive number of businesses — 84 percent — said they either already have or plan to have a Big Data project within their company this year. According to the study, improved customer experience, acquiring new customers and keeping up with competition are cited as the top three reasons why companies prioritize the implementation of a Big Data strategy.

“This research uncovers the promise of Big Data and its application to a broad range of organizational priorities,” said David Hodgson, general manager of Mainframe at CA Technologies.

Data tools are especially crucial to the process of digitizing the application economy, researchers found. As that process moves forward, the market will inevitably expand. CA Technologies’ research declared that companies have increased the amount of data they store by an average of 16 percent over the last two years. In the next two years alone, the volume of data is expected to increase by 24 percent.

Corporate customers of Data-as-a-Service providers have made it clear that this market expansion will need to include market improvement. Businesses have made their demands known: They want tighter security for their data, and if DaaS providers are to be successful, they may want to explore ways to help their business customers overcome the challenges of implementing a Big Data strategy.

SANS’s Filkins predicts that improvement is on its way, at least when it comes to security. “Data-centric security and information governance will grow in importance in proportion to the amount of sensitive information gathered in these systems,” she concluded in her study. But as the research shows, there is more to businesses’ data needs than security.

Overall, however, the forecast for the data analytics market is immensely positive. “While organizations face challenges in tackling complexities associated with implementation efforts, the results overwhelmingly demonstrate that companies are committed to developing and deploying fully integrated Big Data strategies,” CA Technologies’ Hodgson said. “By overcoming the obstacles, companies can successfully compete in the application economy.”

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