WALLDORF — Small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) are realizing the competitive advantages of using and managing “big data” faster than their larger competitors, according to a recent online poll conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of SAP. The survey was conducted within the U.S. between April 10-23, 2012, among 154 C-suite executives at international companies across a range of industries. Additional findings of the survey show that only 25 percent of respondents agree on a similar definition of big data; however, nearly 76 percent viewed big data as an opportunity.
Across the survey, definitions of big data varied widely, with 28 percent defining it as the massive growth in transaction data. Twenty-four percent described it as new technologies that address the volume, variety and velocity challenges of big data; 19 percent said big data refers to requirements to store and archive data for regulatory compliance; and 18 percent saw big data as the rise in new data sources, such as social media, mobile device and machine-generated devices.
While the study showed diverse definitions of what big data is, SMEs are more readily identifying its benefits. More than 60 percent of the respondents manage companies with US$500 million or less in annual revenue. Top competitive advantages gained by using big data include more efficient business operations (59 percent); boosting sales (54 percent); lowering IT costs (50 percent); becoming more agile (48 percent); and attracting and retaining customers (46 percent). In large part because of these advantages, 70 percent of those surveyed said they would expect a return on their big data investments within one year.
“Every company should be thinking about their big data strategy whether they are big or small,” said Steve Lucas, executive vice president and general manager, Database & Technology, SAP. “Big data is the unprecedented growth and convergence of social, device, equipment and corporate data. There is an incredible amount of noise being created and without a strategy, companies will get lost in the noise. Big data is instant access to data and with instant insight, companies can be agile, act on emerging trends, engage with their customer base and also expose potential risks.”
Expansion in Cloud Strategies
Cloud technologies will likely play a role in managing big data. A majority (64 percent) of the executives polled by Harris Interactive said their companies use cloud technology to some extent. Of that, 38 percent said their companies use only cloud technology to store and manage big data, 27 percent cited private clouds or off-premise server farms and 11 percent said they store big data in a public cloud. More than a quarter (26 percent) said their companies use a hybrid of data warehousing and cloud technologies. One-third of the C-suite executives surveyed said they only use a data warehouse solution.
Importance of Instant Access
Sales of tablet computers this year are projected to almost double, to 118.9 million units, according to a recent study by Gartner Research.1 According to Gartner, enterprises will either purchase many of those tablets themselves or allow employees to access company information from their personal mobile devices.
As enterprise computing goes mobile, so too will big data analysis and visualization. When asked to describe the importance of instant access to big data from their mobile computers, 90 percent of the Harris executive respondents called it somewhat important — of which 57 percent deemed instant access either absolutely essential or very important. Industries that place instant access at or near the top of their wish list include aerospace and defense, automotive, banking, chemicals, defense and security, and engineering and construction.
Such timeliness is key. “Collecting and analyzing the data is not enough — it must be presented in a timely fashion so that decisions are made as a direct consequence that have a material impact on the productivity, profitability or efficiency of the organization,” Gartner wrote in its November 2011 report, “Top Predictions for IT Organizations and Users for 2012 and Beyond: Control Slips Away.”
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of SAP between April 10-23, 2012, among 154 C-suite executives at multinational companies across a range of industries, including aerospace and defense, automotive, banking, chemicals, consumer products, engineering and construction, healthcare, high tech, insurance, manufacturing and professional services. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated; a full methodology is available.
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