Data explosion a top concern for UK chief execs

Business meeting

Chief executives from UK and Ireland have placed the rapid expansion of available data as the top factor that will affect their organisations over the next five years.

A new IBM poll has shown that UK and Irish business leaders place more emphasis on the importance of the "information explosion" than chief executives from other parts of the world.

Another recent study, conducted by IDC on behalf of EMC, revealed that the amount of digitalised data created hit 0.8 zettabytes last year. One zettabyte is equal to a trillion gigabytes.

At a press meeting this week, Howard Tollit, an executive partner at IBM, said that businesses can take advantage of this situation, rather than let it confound them.

One way in which firms can reap benefits from the information explosion is to leverage and analyse the data placed on social media sites in order to better understand customers.

Tollit explained to IT PRO that there is also a "validation opportunity" in this area, as companies can look at data from social networking sites and then support the findings with other information, so that a more reliable picture of consumer attitudes is created.

The complexity of the current business world is also a big issue among business leaders, the IBM report showed. This environment has emerged for various reasons, including the volatile economic climate, industry transformation and the data explosion that has occurred in recent years, IBM suggested.

Almost three-quarters of respondents from the UK and Ireland said they expect high or very high levels of complexity over the next five years, but only 50 per cent said they felt ready for it.

It appears some companies are reacting to the situation though, as 55 per cent of UK and Irish chief executives surveyed said their firms are focusing on simplifying their products and operations.

The global IBM survey of chief executives also revealed the growing importance of technology, which was ranked by respondents as the second biggest external force affecting companies.

Since the first IBM Global Chief Executive Officer Study in 2004, technology has jumped from sixth to second place in the top external factors for chief executives' businesses.

Tom Brewster

Tom Brewster is currently an associate editor at Forbes and an award-winning journalist who covers cyber security, surveillance, and privacy. Starting his career at ITPro as a staff writer and working up to a senior staff writer role, Tom has been covering the tech industry for more than ten years and is considered one of the leading journalists in his specialism.

He is a proud alum of the University of Sheffield where he secured an undergraduate degree in English Literature before undertaking a certification from General Assembly in web development.