In June, Data Informed invited business and IT professionals to answer questions about their needs, knowledge, and plans regarding analytics and big data in their organizations. Nearly 250 responded representing 23 industries. Our goal was simple: to gauge the level of interest in and commitment to big data analytics by industry, role, and functional areas within the enterprise.
Business professionals surprisingly responded out of proportion to the number invited to answer the survey. Business analyst, business manager, and executive management were three of the top four roles, representing about 35% of the total respondents. This supports the notion that data is becoming the domain of the business rather than the IT side within the enterprise.
Another surprise: Manufacturing was the most common industry in which respondents worked at 12%. Professional services was second at 11%, just slightly higher than the percentage of respondents who identified themselves as consultants. The top six industries represent nearly two-thirds of the respondents.
The functional areas where respondents said they wanted to know more about how to apply analytics and big data technology align with commonly held thoughts on where analytics and big data are important in the enterprise. Exactly half the respondents are looking at finance, while 42% cited sales and marketing. Interest was strong across all functional areas.
We asked respondents to select from a list of 30 subject areas that were important to them. Core areas such as data management, report design, and data quality are high, while newer, more cutting edge topics such as machine learning are low. Not surprisingly, there is an inverse correlation between the topics of interest and those the respondents said they were not familiar with. In other words, the least understood topics tended to be the least important to the respondents.
In general, respondents in management roles had a higher degree of interest in topics related to big data than respondents in IT roles. In fact, respondents in non-management roles were mainly interested in topics specific to their roles and responsibilities. The survey shows that there is confusion about key big data terms such as machine learning and in-memory computing among a significant minority of both IT and business managers.
When it comes to topics related to the management of big data and analytics initiatives, 63% said strategic planning was most important to them, and the response was higher for executive management (81%) and business managers (75%). People responsible for execution rated strategic planning the lowest. Project management was second at about 60%, led by developers (100%) and IT directors (86%). Change management was consistently important to all roles with two exceptions. No line-of-business owner and 100% of IT directors selected it.
Fewer than 20% of respondents said their companies had no initiatives related to analytics or big data, less than the 22% who said that big data and analytics are core to their business. More than half, 59%, currently have at least one initiative or will have one within the next 12 months. Companies now have many options to implement the latest analytics technology through the cloud or with minimal impact on existing systems. Yet 63% of those with existing or planned initiatives say they will be deployed internally and integrated with existing systems. Only 4% said their initiative was completely cloud based.