Are British companies "drowning in data"?

The Boardroom

by Jimmy Nicholls| 07 May 2014

Research from Hitachi Data Systems reveals inadequacies in handling of big data.

Chief information officers in Britain's biggest firms believe their companies are "drowning in data", according to research by Hitachi Data Systems (HDS).

Only 8 of the 200 CIOs interviewed disagreed with the view that their organisations were facing a data glut, with 87% fearful the untapped data may lead to compliance or regulatory issues.

At a recent roundtable Rob Bamforth, principal analyst at Quocirca, said: "We have been deluged by data but we have, I think, a dearth of wisdom."

The Information Innovation Index conducted by Vanson Bourne surveyed technology officers from British companies with more than 1,000 employees, with nine in ten saying archaic data storage was preventing them putting the information to use.

"The big difficulty is that design at the beginning is crucial," said Ray Ford, chief technology officer at Accident Exchange. "The problem is that many projects are kicked off with a fait accompli handed to IT."

Information Innovation Index (part 1)

Almost half of respondents said their computer systems were unable to deliver the data analysis they desired, with a similar amount believing it was damaging the business's growth.

"What, for me, came out of this research was business and IT don't really understand each other," Bamforth added, a view that was supported by the two-thirds of tech officers who were not confident their colleagues had the skills to act upon the data analysis.

A previous report from software firm SAS found that almost all IT managers saw potential benefit in analytics, but only a third knew how to measure that benefit.

"If you don't understand the technology limitations you can't design the right solutions," Ford added. Responding to queries about which information was valuable, he highlighted metadata as a key asset for business. "The context is what matters."

"I hate the term big in big data," Bamforth said. "It shouldn't be about volume. It's about getting to the value."

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