The Death of Business Intelligence

IT leaders believe in the future of big data, but barriers remain

Posted in Business, Business Intelligence by neilwilson1984 on October 24, 2013

UK firms are increasingly coming to see the benefits of big data as a part of their operation, with 75 per cent now saying it will have a role to play in improving their operation.

Results from a survey carried out by EMC showed that three-quarters of decision makers feel positive about the use of big data – which allows them to analyse large amounts of information to make better informed business decisions.

However, despite the positive sentiment from those in the IT sector, there is still a degree of reluctance in the UK to take on the technology.

Some 32 per cent of businesses surveyed said they have no current plans to implement its use, with 48 per cent stating the main barrier to their uptake is the fact there is a lack of solid anecdotal evidence showing the impact it can have.

This is in spite of the fact that many still have a clear idea of what they either expect or believe the technology can have to offer them.

Of those surveyed, 37 per cent said they believed it could help them mitigate against the risk of cyber attacks, while another 37 per cent said it had the potential to allow them to make “transformative” decisions that will make big changes to their operation.

Another 21 per cent focused on the sort of specific important choices it can help business leaders make, with an eye on keeping themselves ahead of the competition.

With so many stating the benefits then, and three-quarters believing it has such an ability to transform the way they operate, why are so many reluctant to do so?

It appears that the main reason is financial. With big data still essentially in its infancy, and so many firms looking to remain low risk in terms of financial hardship – the UK is still slowly recovering economically from the financial crisis that struck the market in 2009 – taking a chance on what many see as an unproven entity is still worrying.

With more than a third citing a lack of evidence of return on investment as one of their biggest concerns, perhaps the onus is on companies creating big data software to provide case studies and examples of the specific ways companies can benefit.

There are other issues that need to be overcome for firms looking to make use of big data as well, however, with one of the main hurdles being the lack of skilled analysts ready to step into roles.

A recent study published by Gartner, for example, stated that the worldwide IT market will face a 75 per cent shortfall in the number of people required in these roles over the next few years.

Tesco, which is one of the biggest IT recruiters in the country, also highlighted this point. It said that even though it currently faces relatively few issues with finding people for such roles, were the uptick in big data demand to continue, there could be a considerable shortage in suitable applicants.

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Big data revolutionizes marketing

Posted in Business, Business Intelligence by neilwilson1984 on October 3, 2013

Business intelligence (BI) is radically altering the way marketing functions, according to a major new research report from GfK.

The research carried out exclusively for The Guardian Changing Advertising Summit has shown how the marketing sector is adapting to the unstoppable rise of big data. According to the authors the sector is both excited and apprehensive about the opportunities presented by the proliferation of consumer data. Harnessing this data through effective BI solutions will prove essential.

The survey found 86 per cent of marketers considered that big data was changing the marketing function. Over half (53 per cent) said it was now ‘very important’ with 62 per cent saying their job had already changed as a result. Marketers presented a picture of being squeezed by the rise of digital media on one hand, and pressure to deliver financial results on the other.

With greater access to data come greater expectations of marketers. Marketing professionals believe consumers will expect marketing messages to be more targeted to their needs. Marketers expect increasingly to mine big data to create relevant, personalized campaigns.

Skills are a major hurdle, with only 30 per cent of marketers saying they were well qualified to handle the challenges of big data. As one respondent said: “How many marketers currently even know what an algorithm is – let alone how it can determine product development, placement, price etc?”

Another task facing marketing professionals is that of explaining how they use data. Almost half of the consumers polled (47 per cent) admitted to a poor understanding of what is being collected, although most understand data would be used for targeting them with offers.

Meanwhile it seems marketers need to significantly improve how they handle and act on data. The research revealed that the majority of people are not always convinced by the personalised offers they currently receive. Just one-third (34 per cent) said they were ‘happy’ when companies suggested products for them based on the information they know about them.

Colin Strong, GfK’s managing director for business & technology says:  “Whilst companies can see opportunities for cost-efficiencies and media cut-through, the people we surveyed were often underwhelmed with the personalised messages they had received as a result of campaigns using big data.”

Data needs to be better understood and applied, he suggests: “With the use of big data in its infancy, the marketing industry has to become more sophisticated in its use of the information it collects to convince consumers that relevant, accurately targeted offers do actually make their lives easier.”

The research also found that 81 per cent of consumers said they were more likely to give their business to companies that use their personal data appropriately.

As with any new technology, sensitivity is important and marketers need to prove they can be trusted with people’s personal information, adds Mr Strong. He says: “Those that don’t risk not only ever decreasing business returns, but reputational damage if marketing messages are considered inappropriate or intrusive.”