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Is big data too big to handle?

Sheila Lam, Computerworld HK | Aug. 7, 2013
Despite the enthusiasm for big data, how many big data conversations have turned into actual implementation?

Bottom Line

- Lack of confidence in IT infrastructure and data architecture holds back big data investment

- Big data is most valued for its ability to handle massive amounts of data

- Advanced analysis will take up more strategic business functions

Data has never moved so fast or been gathered in such a large amount. The ability to process massive data volumes from a variety of data formats with high performance analytics is why big data is such an attractive proposition today. It's a topic that dominates tech events and is one of the top tech trends in 2013—among cloud computing, social media, and mobility.

Despite the enthusiasm, how many big data conversations have turned into actual implementation? What prevents from Hong Kong enterprises from big data adoption? To find out why firms aren't rolling out this hot new tech, Computerworld Hong Kong began a survey in May this year.

The survey focuses on users' adoption and attitudes based on the "three Vs"—volume, variety and velocity—the three-dimensional growth that defines big data. As of July, more than 140 local IT professionals have participated in this ongoing survey.

From discussion to adoption
First stat: the current state and plans for big data adoption. The survey indicates adoption rate is low, with one-fifth (20.1%) of the surveyed professionals stated they currently use big data technologies for production, with another 9.7% of organizations planning implementation within the next 12 months.


But 40.3% of IT professionals indicated their organizations have no plans at all to implement big data. And uncertainty is found among 29.5% of the survey respondents.

The distribution differs greatly from the typical adoption trend for emerging technologies: most organizations tend to take a skeptical wait-and-see approach to new tech. But these findings suggest a majority of Hong Kong IT professionals are certain about their plans for big data—they're either embracing it or refusing it—leaving little room for skepticism.

Drivers and challenges for big data
To understand market enthusiasm and adoption, we asked readers to rate the benefits of big data based on their impression of how well the tech handles the "three Vs.


Big data's ability to collect and analyze a larger volume of data is most highly rated, with 47% of respondents rating it as the most important benefit. Rated second: the ability to handle a variety of data formats (29.1%). The ability of big data technologies to increase speed and performance for analysis is rated lowest—cited by only 23.9% of IT professionals.

Regarding challenges to implement big data, readers indicated poor data integration tools (48.8%), poor data quality (39.8%), lack of data architecture (39%) and confusing data ownership (39%) as the top four challenges.


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