Big Data Presents a Big Challenge for Businesses

A lack of skilled resources to implement and interpret analytics, and lack of IT infrastructure, software or tools to transform data are major issues.

While big data is viewed as impacting organizations on a grand scale, IT leaders are under the impression that they have progressed further than IT professionals can verify, according to a survey of more than 1,500 IT leaders and 2,000 IT professionals from companies of all sizes conducted on behalf of TEKsystems Global Services.

Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of IT leaders said they are confident that their organizations can effectively address challenges associated with big data initiatives in the next two years, while only 64 percent of IT professionals express the same confidence.

According to the report, more than 80 percent of IT leaders and 77 percent of IT professionals believe there is a significant shortage of workers with the skills required to plan, execute and take advantage of the potential of big data projects, and more than half of organizations are already feeling the squeeze as 56 percent of IT leaders and 57 percent of IT professionals report their organization finds it difficult to retain workers with analytics skills.

"While the promise of big data initiatives are commonly accepted, the organizational readiness is questionable," TEKsystems research manager Jason Hayman said in a statement. "The skills organizations need do not necessarily come from the usual IT talent pools and the competition for those skill sets is heated. Organizations need to develop a blended sourcing strategy for hiring the innovative thinkers with backgrounds in mathematics and statistics."

Both IT leaders and IT professionals rank workers with combined IT and business skills, such as strong aptitudes for business, technology, mathematics and statistics as their highest need, and IT leaders said they believe their organizations mostly address the skills required through permanent hiring, training and developing of internal staff, whereas IT professionals believe that their organization normally hires temporary workers to address any skills gaps.

The vast majority (90 percent) of IT leaders and 84 percent of IT professionals believe investments of time, money and resources into big data initiatives are worthwhile, however, opinions vary on where their organizations stand on being able to take advantage of their efforts.

More than half of IT leaders (51 percent) believe their big data initiatives have moved from “not considered or exploring” to "developing, implementing or applying" as compared to 41 percent of IT professionals. In terms of experiencing the most difficulty, both groups rank volume of data as being more challenging than velocity or variety of data, and the majority of both groups agree that ownership of the data is unclear or undefined.

However, both IT leaders and IT professionals have common viewpoints on a number of issues, like ranking the top four business objectives that big data initiatives will assist in addressing as improving forecasting and modeling effectiveness, reducing costs, identifying new business opportunities and business trends, and improving sales efficiency and effectiveness.

In addition, both groups listed a lack of skilled resources to implement, maintain or interpret analytics, and lack of IT infrastructure, software or tools capable of turning data into actionable insights, as two of the top three inhibitors to effectively leveraging data and analytics.