EMC: Half of UK firms lack big data analytics experience

Big Data word cloud

Just under half (45 per cent) of UK businesses have no data analytics platform experience, according to recently published research.

The survey of 300 business and technical decision makers across the UK enterprise and the public sector revealed that, despite recognition of the big data opportunity, businesses in all sectors are struggling with skills and infrastructure challenges.

The study, carried out by Opinium Research on behalf of storage giant EMC, found that alongside the skills shortage, 42 per cent of all respondents feel IT infrastructure limitations are holding them back, with 44 per cent of financial services decision makers unable to alter their infrastructure fast enough to make better use of data.

The research found that 61 per cent of leaders identified driving new revenue streams as a major motivator for their big data projects, with the IT, telecoms and media sector ranking this highest. However, 67 per cent of retail sector leaders identified the potential to make more money and drive growth through data analysis as a key driver.

Worryingly, the survey found nearly two-thirds (62 per cent) are without the skills required to understand ethical, responsible and compliant use of customer data.

In the retail sector, almost two thirds (63 per cent) of decision makers in the industry feel better use of customer insights, trend data and information in and around their business will be key to unlocking the next wave of growth. Additionally, 74 per cent recognise that transforming their organisational model to meet customer requirements will play a fundamental role in preparing the business for growth.

One of the big shocks unearthed by the survey was that the financial services sector had the lowest scores across the board.

The sector as a whole appears to be struggling to align its infrastructure, skills and leadership with the opportunities of big data, the research said. Although 56 per cent of financial services decision makers recognised the potential to drive revenue streams and better understand customers, almost half revealed their IT infrastructure can't move fast enough to make better use of data.

James Petter, managing director of UK and Ireland at EMC, said the industry is "past the point where people can write off the potential for and use of data as the responsibility of IT or an operational silo".

"It has to be a strategic focus for the business if we are to successfully deliver a new era of accelerated growth in an uncertain, hyper-competitive market context," he said.

"It's great to see the majority of businesses across all sectors are embracing big data analytics of some kind, but there's clearly a long way to go before all businesses are equipped with the right skills, leadership and IT infrastructure to drive real change and new opportunities in their markets."

Analysists said that one-in-five businesses feel they have a problem with skills shortages.

"We also know that companies less than 10 years old are reaping significantly more value from analytics than their older counterparts," said Steve Duplessie, senior analyst at the Enterprise Strategy Group. "Traditional companies need to get moving faster in the analytics uptake, or the gaps are going to widen."

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.