More than three-quarters of companies are investing or planning to invest in big data in the next two years, a 3% increase over 2014, according to a recent survey by Gartner, Inc. However, this increase was not as high as in previous years.
"This year begins the shift of big data away from a topic unto itself, and toward standard practices," said Nick Heudecker, research director at Gartner.
"The topics that formerly defined big data, such as massive data volumes, disparate data sources and new technologies are becoming familiar as big data solutions become mainstream," Heudecker added. "For example, among companies that have invested in big data technology, 70% are analyzing or planning to analyze location data, and 64% are analyzing or planning to analyze free-form text."
Organizations typically have multiple goals for big data initiatives, such as enhancing the customer experience, streamlining existing processes, achieving more targeted marketing and reducing costs. As in previous years, organizations are overwhelmingly targeting enhanced customer experience as the primary goal of big data projects (64%). Process efficiency and more-targeted marketing are now tied at 47%. As data breaches continue to make headlines, enhanced security capabilities saw the largest increase, from 15% to 23%.
When asked about ROI for big data efforts, the majority of those companies with plans to invest in big data and those that have invested, expect a positive ROI. However, a large proportion of companies (43% of those planning to invest and 38% of those that have already invested) don't know if their ROI will be positive or negative. This uncertainty highlights the challenges in determining the value of big data projects.
One of the more significant changes in this year's survey findings is the role within the organization that initiates big data projects. Last year, 37% of big data projects were initiated by the CIO, while 25% were initiated by business unit heads. In 2015, the roles are nearly tied, at 32% and 31%, respectively.