Is Big Data costing European businesses £20 million?

Big Data word cloud

Is big data failing businesses? It is for over half of businesses that have missed opportunities due to buried information, according to a new report by Pure Storage, a flash storage provider based out of Silicon Valley.

Despite the vast amounts of information that companies now gather, many are struggling to process and use it in meaningful ways. The European Big Data Big Failure report found that 51 per cent of businesses have lost out from underused information. For 31 per cent of companies, this occurred more than once a year, and 19 per cent reported it happening several times a week.

These bygone opportunities translate to a significant loss for companies, regardless of sizeup to 2 million a year per company for those between 100 million and 500 million in sales, and as much as 20 million per company per year for those earning more than 1 billion.

James Petter, VP EMEA of Pure Storage, said, "The reason we're seeing these trends emerge is because it is now cheaper for businesses to retain the data they are collecting than to destroy itso the volume of data a business holds is growing rapidly. But at the same time, it is complicated and costly to access usable information fast enough to make a difference."

A lack of quick access to critical information, of workers skilled in data management, and of efficient organisational hierarchies were the most commonly cited factors for missed opportunities. Despite these losses, 78 per cent of European businesses believe that they could improve their performance by at least 21 per cent with faster insights.

Identifying relevant information comes with its own set of obstacles, though, assuming that data is being used at all; almost three-quarters (72 per cent) of companies admitted to collecting data that they never used.

Big data is a challenge that many businesses are not equipped to handle. Processing large quantities of data is too costly for 19 per cent of businesses and accessing critical details is too time-consuming for nearly half (48 per cent).

"Companies often have access to the same information. It's the speed and simplicity of tools with which they can harness it into actionable insights that disrupts their competitors," Petter said. "As companies gather more and more granular data on what they do, the potential to gain understanding and plan accordingly is not just a profitable undertaking, it is a necessity.

"Transformation is being forced on organisations at an ever-increasing pace. They must adapt to new ways of doing business, new markets and new practicesor die."

The sheer size of collected data isn't the only thing standing in companies' ways to productivity, though; accessing it in the first place can be its own battle. "Bureaucratic red tape" was the most serious obstacle to business productivity for 56 per cent of businesses.

Petter added that "Bureaucratic red tape around access to information is preventing companies from using their data to find those unique pieces of insight that lead to great ideas. Data ownership is no longer just the remit of the CIO, the democratisation of insight across businesses enables them to disrupt the competition."

One in ten of the surveyed companies pointed to data protection concerns as a hindrance to the distribution of data and information within their business, a problem that may soon be magnified with the implementation of the EU General Data Protection Regulation. The final text of the GDPR is expected by the end of the year.

Regulations have had the biggest negative impact in the UK with 39 per cent of businesses identifying unforeseen, negative consequences resulting from otherwise well-intentioned regulations.

Elsewhere, changes in French regulations have been cited as helpful to their ability to do business by 42 per cent, while 40 per cent of companies saw no new regulations in Germany that impacted their performance. Furthermore, 26 per cent of businesses said that regulations of a different industry had a positive effect.