Lack of big data skills hampers adoption

Australian and New Zealand businesses are keen to implement big data projects but are hampered by lack of in-house skills in this area, according to a report commissioned by Hitachi Data Systems.

The report, The Hype and the Hope: The Road to Big Data Adoption in Asia-Pacific, polled 550 business executives in the region, with 166 from Australia and New Zealand (ANZ).

The report finds the single biggest factor hampering adoption of big data in ANZ is a lack of in-house skills, cited by 43 per cent of respondents. The ANZ respondents also said a lack of suitable software and problems with overly complicated reports were also holding back adoption.

Related: Data scientist: Most 'in demand' job of the century?

“The key challenge for organisations seeking to reap the benefits of big data is to acquire the right skill sets and manage communication better across the enterprise and between departments,” says Neville Vincent, senior vice president and general manager, Hitachi Data Systems Asia Pacific.

“We believe that over time, organisations will appoint a data scientist who combines the disciplines of business, statistical analysis, and software development, enabling businesses to properly harness the true value from their data.”

The survey finds nearly 40 per cent of organisations in ANZ do not have a big data strategy, mainly due to the communication and skills challenges. Nearly a fifth plan to roll out big data systems, but these plans have been poorly communicated to employees.

Related: Most ANZ organisations unprepared for ‘Big Data’: ISACA

Despite the lack of progress, ANZ respondents believe big data can improve their business, with more than 70 per cent believing it can deliver gains in productivity, profitability and innovation.

More than half - 63 per cent - expect to see a 25 per cent or higher improvement in knowledge management and transfer in their company; while 73 per cent forecast accuracy to improve by at least 25 per cent. Seventy six per cent expect management/strategic decision making to improve by 25 per cent or more.

The report also shows 92 per cent of businesses in ANZ rely on their own internal databases for information, while 53 per cent are sourcing syndicated data from third-party providers. Thirty seven per cent of ANZ businesses use social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogs for data insight.

The report finds organisations are increasingly tapping location-based and contact centre data, while 20 percent are using machine-generated data such as sensors, smart grid, RFID, network logs and telematics to make business decisions.

Across the region, some 80 per cent of front-line employees believe improved access to data is critical, but only 19 per cent say they can always access the data they need.

“Businesses should adopt policies that help break down silos, improve internal communications and establish advanced technology platforms, which can deliver a substantial lift to revenue and bottom line,” says Vincent.

He says the survey shows there is a strong appetite for data analytics and expects this sector to take off next year as businesses recognise its commercial, organisational, and operational benefits.

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Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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