Data scientist drought a barrier to UK business growth

Big data

UK firms are hoarding data to unlock insights that could be used to fuel future business growth, but lack the knowhow to exploit it now.

That's one of the key findings of Hitachi Data Systems' (HDS) inaugural Innovation Index, which looks at the attitudes of UK CIOs when it comes to extracting business value from large data sets.

The report features input from 200 UK-based IT decision makers who work within companies with at least 1,000 employees.

Nearly half (46 per cent) of those questioned admitted running into problems when trying to analyse their big data stores because of shortfalls in their current approach to IT.

Furthermore, 90 per cent of participants said the traditional IT methods used store and manage datasets are holding back their plans to use this information to drive their business forward.

Discussing the results of the storage vendor's report at a roundtable in central London yesterday, Bob Plumridge, CTO of HDS for EMEA, said the respondents felt these failings could hamper their future growth.

"We've been talking about big data for a number of years and trying to exploit as much of the data they hold, either ancient or real-time, nearly half of the CIOs [questioned] don't think they can achieve that with the infrastructures and analytics they have in place today to leverage that data and drive growth," he explained.

As a result, 73 per cent of UK firms are not currently mining their current data stores for business insights, the survey also revealed, while 91 per cent of CIOs said they thought IT could do more to help rectify this situation.

"Data we think might be not valuable today and may discard as a result, we could discover in two year's time that that is actually the crown jewels," said Plumridge.

"Perhaps there is a fear in some businesses that if they don't just keep everything they are exposing themselves to problems maybe 1,2, or 5, years down the line."

The results of the survey were discussed at length during the event, with Rob Bamforth, principal analyst at market watcher Quocirca, citing the dearth of data scientists within businesses as a major hindrance.

"We've been deluged with data, but we have a dearth of wisdom in being able to address it," he said.

"The trouble is, if we keep everything just in case, some people are going to find themselves overwhelmed... [because] it's really hard to delve into the data.

"A lot of businesses are finding it difficult to get really highly-skilled data scientists who can forensically analyse [it]...but that's what we need to... cut through the large volumes of stuff that has been generated," explained Bamforth.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.