Over the past three years or so, the buzz around big data has continued to grow. While some dismiss it as so much hype, businesses around the world are taking notice: In its recently released 5th annual Digital IQ Survey, consulting firm PwC found that 62 percent of respondents believe big data can give them a competitive advantage.
But believing in the power of big data is one thing; leveraging big data for actionable insights is another. PwC also found that 58 percent of respondents agree that moving from data to insight is a major challenge.
"The amount of information and data that we're collecting now is truly enormous in terms of the volume that is outside the four walls of the organization," says Anand Rao, principal at PwC. "Organizations don't have the right people, they don't have the right structure in place and they're still struggling with some of the tools and techniques."
PwC surveyed 1,108 respondents from 12 countries and across a variety of industries. The respondents were evenly divided between IT and business leaders, and more than 75 percent worked in organizations with revenues of more than $1 billion. PwC found that organizations struggle with four major big data barriers:
- They're blind to the importance of visualization.
- They're investing more in gathering data than analyzing it.
- They're facing a talent gap.
- They're struggling with insufficient systems to rapidly process information.
Businesses Blind to the Importance of Visualization
When it comes to actually deriving insight from the trove of data at most organizations' disposal, visualization is fundamental. Visualization helps put data into context and bring business cases to life. In many cases, advanced visualization capabilities allow organizations to glean insights that would be impossible otherwise.
For instance, due to archaic records and inaccurate information, most utilities have no idea where all of their underground assets are located, resulting in all-too-common service interruptions for residents when a power line is accidently cut or a water line bursts.
To avoid these problems, the City of Las Vegas took advantage of smart data to develop a living model of its utilities network. VTN Consulting helped the city aggregate data from various sources into a single real-time 3D model created with Autodesk technology. The model includes both above and below ground utilities, and is being used to visualize the location and performance of critical assets located under the city.
And yet, only 26 percent of global survey respondents are using data visualization. But the picture is very different when you focus in on top performing companies--those respondents that reported revenue growth of greater than five percent and whose companies are in the top quartile for revenue, profitability and innovation. Those organizations lead the pack in terms of plans to invest more in data visualization in 2013.
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