Increasing numbers of businesses are harnessing the advantages of “Big Data” according to a study from the University of Oxford’s Saїd Business School and the IBM Institute for Business Value.
Commentators said big data is “much discussed but ill-defined”, and companies would do well to make the most of sophisticated analytics.
Big data can mean any number of things, such as social media analytics, real-time data, information management or the handling of vast amounts of data from traditional and non-traditional routes.
Professor Dolores Romero Morales discussed the findings of the survey, which showed 63% of businesses think big data has instigated a competitive advantage for their companies, while 49% said information and analytics supported customer-centric aims.
The Professor said: “Big data and analytics have been around for a long time in other areas of application, such as life sciences.
“The key reason companies have been slow to take it up is that overly complex models of reality are a hard sell in companies.
“But nowadays boardrooms are starting to appreciate that analytical sophistication can bring competitive advantages and this is greatly helped by the creation of new visual and other tools to look at data.”
More companies are fostering big data initiatives, with 28% of businesses in the University survey saying they have piloted or started using a big data project, while 47% have future plans to begin a programme.
Firms are commonly using data gathered internally to assess their consumers’ preferences, and with 25% of firms equipped with the required data capabilities, Saїd Business School has urged firms to take advantage of the resource.
Dr Janet Smart, Fellow in Management at Saїd Business School, and co-author of the report commented: “The adoption of big data initiatives is a process which relies on the availability of the data itself, but also on the technologies and skills to utilize it to create value and for competitive advantage.
“We wanted to discover what companies think about the opportunities and challenges of big data, to see what they are doing now in practice, and what their intentions are in this area.”
Dave Kay, VP of Sales for IBM UK and Ireland, commented: “The survey confirms that most organisations are in the early stages of Big Data activities and many are focusing their efforts on analysing internal sources of Big Data.
“Whilst there is clearly untapped value locked away in internal data, organisations need to embrace the uncertainty or veracity of external data sources and invest in the skills and technology to enable them to use this data to their competitive advantage.”