Lack of in-house skills a barrier to big data adoption in A/NZ: report

Forty-three per cent of 166 A/NZ executives surveyed cited lack of skills as a challenge

Big data adoption in Australia and New Zealand is getting hampered by a skills shortage and lack of suitable software, according to the findings of a new research paper.

The Economist Intelligence Unit report entitled, The Hype and the Hope: The road to big data adoption in Asia Pacific, was commissioned by Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) and conducted during October 2013. One hundred and sixty-six A/NZ senior executives and front line managers responded to the survey. A total of 550 organisations in Asia Pacific were polled.

According to the findings, 43 per cent of A/NZ respondents cited a lack of in-house skills as a barrier to big data adoption while 40 per cent said there was a lack of suitable big data software available.

Thirty-one per cent of A/NZ senior managers cited overly complicated reports and a lack of communication between departments as barriers to using big data.

The report also found that almost 40 per cent of A/NZ companies do not have a big data strategy due to the communication and skills challenge. Approximately 20 per cent planned to roll out big data offerings but these plans had been poorly communicated.

HDS Asia Pacific's senior vice president and general manager, Neville Vincent, said that despite the challenges, many A/NZ respondents indicated that they could get a return from big data investment.

For example, 73 per cent expected forecasting accuracy to improve by 25 per cent while 76 per cent said that management decision making would improve by over 25 per cent.

“There are three things we think CEOs need to do with big data adoption. They need to change their approach to the data they have in their organisation because data is going to be the fundamental source of shareholder value,” he said during a media and analyst briefing in Sydney.

“Data asset returns are going to improve revenues, profitability and productivity.”

The second piece of advice was “extracting value” from the data. According to Vincent, more organisations need to improve communication between departments.

“Information is still highly siloed and people can’t do the collaborative analysis. Departments aren’t talking each other so front line managers can’t determine what they actually need,” he said.

Vincent’s third piece of advice was not to dictate big data strategy to IT.

“If data is your most fundamental capital asset, you need to get your IT department involved much earlier with the business planning cycle.”

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

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