Big data investments continue to rise but are showing signs of contracting, as focus shifts to the specific business problems the technology can solve.
According to Gartner research findings, 48 per cent of companies have invested in big data in 2016, up three percent from 2015.
Yet those who plan to invest in big data within the next two years fell from 31 to 25 per cent in 2016.
“Investment in big data is up, but the survey is showing signs of slowing growth with fewer companies having a future intent to invest,” Gartner research director, Nick Heudecker, said.
“The big issue is not so much big data itself, but rather how it is used. While organisations have understood that big data is not just about a specific technology, they need to avoid thinking about big data as a separate effort.”
Heudecker defines big data as a collection of different data management technologies and practices that support multiple analytics use cases.
Consequently, Heudecker believes organisations are moving from vague notions of data and analytics to specific business problems that data can address.
“Its success depends on a holistic strategy around business outcomes, skilled personnel, data and infrastructure,” Heudecker added.
Projects to productions
While nearly three quarters of organisations have invested or are planning to invest in big data, many remain stuck at the pilot stage.
Heudecker said only 15 per cent of businesses reported deploying big data project to production, effectively unchanged from last year (14 per cent).
“One explanation for this is that big data projects appear to be receiving less spending priority than competing IT initiatives,” Heudecker added.
Findings show that only 11 per cent of respondents from organisations that have already invested in big data reported that big data investments were as important, or more important, than other IT initiatives, while 46 per cent believe they were less important.
“This could be due to the fact that many big data projects don't have a tangible return on investment (ROI) that can be determined upfront,” Heudecker added.
“Another reason could be that the big data initiative is a part of a larger funded initiative. This will become more common as the term "big data" fades away, and dealing with larger datasets and multiple data types continues to be the norm.”
A further factor to consider is the lack of effective business leadership or involvement in data initiatives.
Too often, pilots and experiments are built with ad-hoc technologies and infrastructure that are not created with production-level reliability in mind.
“When it comes to big data, many organisations are still finding themselves at the crafting stage,” Gartner research director, Jim Hare, added.
“Industrialisation - and the performance and stability guarantees that come with it - have yet to penetrate big data thinking.”