Only one third of firms using ‘big data’ for strategic decisions, says report

Out-Law News | 14 Jan 2015 | 5:09 pm | 1 min. read

Only 31% of businesses have significantly restructured their operations to help put ‘big data’ “at the heart of every business decision”, according to a report based on research by consultancy Ernst & Young (EY).

According to EY’s report, 'Becoming an analytics driven organisation to create value', “most businesses are still using analytics in an isolated way to address specific business issues, limiting the potential value to increase performance and efficiency”.

'Big data' is a term used to describe the analysis and use of the vast amounts of information generated by computers and devices and their use.

EY’s head of big data and analytics for the UK and Ireland Herman Heyns said: “Data can be the lifeblood of an organisation if it is allowed to flow freely across the entire ecosystem. As our research shows, building the right organisational structure and governance framework to support value-driven decision making remains a challenge for many businesses out there.”

Heyns said: “Businesses need to invest in the necessary skills, structure and data governance that will help them build a data strategy that is trusted, valued and supported by key stakeholders.”

Technology law expert Luke Scanlon of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said: "There are of course good reasons why some businesses are failing to place greater strategic reliance on data-driven conclusions generated through big data analytics. The more data you analyse does not necessarily translate into better decision-making, unless you are confident that the algorithms driving the analysis are robust and that the conclusions you are making are sound.”

Scanlon said: “Many businesses need to address questions of data quality and algorithm accountability before they can take big data analysis to the next level."

EY said its research found that only 12% of firms are using analytics to increase cyber security, 17% of organisations “are concerned about the complexity of regulations and the risk of non compliance and 19% feared misusing data resulting in damage to corporate reputation.

In addition, 44% of firms think big data “will increase data security risks”, while 32% admitted to “being overwhelmed by data”. At the same time 50% of businesses “do not trust their own data”, EY said.

However, EY said its research showed that “the use of analysis to drive board-level decision making will double in the foreseeable future.

EY’s report was based on a survey of 270 senior executives from a range of very small to major companies who responded to questions on all aspects of their data strategy. All respondents “are active stakeholders in big data projects and all departmental functions and industry sectors are represented, with the majority of respondents working in finance, marketing and IT, as well as cross-departmental management roles”, EY said.

Fewer than one in 20 large companies are taking full advantage of the potential offered to them by big data, according to a report published by KPMG last year.