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What the Latest Surveys Tell Us About Big Data Adoption

Looking at surveys on Big Data adoption and usage from NewVantage, Gartner, Forbes, and Syncsort data.

· Big Data Zone

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It’s easy to say that businesses should be adopting big data solutions, but many organizations tend to exercise caution when it comes to using new technologies. Sometimes that caution is driven by lack of understanding of the technology, or in some cases security concerns tend to overwhelm their minds. Whatever the case, big data has needed to overcome various obstacles to truly become a permanent part of business operations, and it appears that it has mostly achieved that status. While big data adoption still has a way to go for every business to implement it, the milestones big data analytics has hit in just the past few years is impressive, to say the least. Big data feels like it’s everywhere now, and some of the latest surveys looking at big data adoption appear to back that observation up pretty convincingly.

One of the most recent surveys to ask about big data adoption rates comes from NewVantage Partners, a management consultant organization. Their findings highlight some interesting trends in how businesses view big data within their companies. The biggest adopters of big data solutions tend to be financial services firms. According to respondents to the NewVantage survey, more than 62 percent of businesses say there’s at least one instance of big data in production in their organization, a major increase from the results found in 2013. Equally impressive is the fact that more than half (54 percent) of respondents say their companies now have a Chief Data Officer on staff, a huge jump from the 12 percent reported in 2012. These results have lead NewVantage Partners to declare that big data is now “mainstream”, and judging by the surveys responses, it’s hard to argue against it.

Gartner has also released a recent survey looking at the rate of big data adoption, and while the results aren’t exactly the same, they do show a similar trend. According to the survey, 75 percent of companies are currently investing in big data or plan to invest in big data in the next two years.

That may sound impressive, but it’s only a minimal increase from the previous year, which represents a slight slowdown. Though the rate of growth might have slowed, the ways in which companies are using big data is still changing. The survey shows that businesses are moving away from big data as a topic and rather looking at implementing it into their standard practices. In other words, companies are keying in on how they want to use it. 64 percent are using it for an improved customer experience, while 47 percent utilize it for more targeted marketing as well as enhanced process efficiency.

Forbes Insights also released a survey that had similar encouraging news for big data adoption and investment. In fact, the results from this survey show even more companies are investing in big data compared to the Gartner survey. According to Forbes Insights, 90 percent of responding executives say their organizations perform medium to high levels of investment in analytics. Equally worth noting is that 59 percent say big data is a top five issue or the most important way to gain an advantage over the competition. The survey shows this opinion is most commonly seen in the financial sector, mirroring the results found the NewVantage survey. Despite these results, Forbes’s survey also highlights the challenges of big data adoption, mainly that cultural barriers within organizations can often impede a business from fully implement big data solutions.

The rise in big data adoption is also affecting the adoption of big data platforms. A survey from Syncsort shows that big data experts and analysts have become much more interested in certain platforms. Apache Spark dominates this area, with 70 percent expressing interest, well ahead of second place MapReduce at 55 percent. The responses are also indicative of another trend, as big data experts transition from using more expensive big data platforms to open source Hadoop options. In other words, it’s not so much a debate about Spark vs. Hadoop but rather an organic utilization of both to achieve new things with big data.

Though the surveys may differ on overall rates of big data adoption, all point to the growing popularity of big data among many different businesses. Big data has indeed gone mainstream, and companies are finding new and effective ways to use it for their operations. The same pattern will likely hold true for other related technologies like machine learning. Within a few years, don’t be surprised to see almost every organization employing big data in some way.

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