Ignoring big data is 'risky': ISACA

Calls on information technology professionals to look at big data holistically and consider the cost of inaction.

Enterprises that avoid using big data analytics techniques because of possible dangers, such as security and privacy breaches, may be creating risk of another type, according to a new ISACA report.

“There are risks inherent in implementing big data, such as ensuring privacy laws are not breached. But the risk of inaction may be far greater, with a company being left behind as its competitors embrace the technique to leap ahead,” says Norman Marks, a member of ISACA’s Emerging Business and Technology Committee, which developed the report.

The report, Generating Value from Big Data Analytics, calls on information technology professionals to look at big data holistically and consider the cost of inaction.

Related: Big data demystified

Understanding the business case is just as important as understanding the technology and compliance risk, the report states. Enterprises need to understand the business rationale for adoption, the anticipated return on investment and the impact if the enterprise chooses not to adopt while its competitors do.

Questions for enterprises to address before they can confidently realise gains from big data analytics:

• Does the enterprise have the people, process and technology in place to build capabilities that will make productive use of data that the enterprise has collected?

• Has the enterprise established roles and responsibilities and identified stakeholders?

• Does the enterprise have (or can it get) data on which to apply advanced analytics?

Source: ISACA

Related: Most ANZ organisations unprepared for ‘Big Data’: ISACA

The report lists at least three challenges that may hinder the ability to realise gains from big data projects: skills gap, internal silos and 'shadow IT'.

Most enterprises do not currently have specialised analytics skills in-house, and these personnel are expected to continue to be hard to find and expensive to maintain in the short-to-intermediate term.

Another challenge is enterprise silos, especially in organisations with a history of competitiveness, antagonism or resistance to outside influence, which will make them less willing to share information or act on information they receive.

If knowledge is power, then big data can equal big power.

Robert Stroud, ISACA and CA Technologies

The rise of ‘shadow’ or ‘roque’ IT — technology adopted without the IT department’s approval or awareness—may result in large volumes of hidden data that get missed by big data projects planned centrally.

“Before enterprises go ahead with any significant investments in big data analytics, they need to take a candid and realistic assessment of organisational culture and structure. If knowledge is power, then big data can equal big power,” says Robert Stroud, a member of ISACA’s Professional Influence and Advisory Committee and vice president of strategy, innovation and service management, CA Technologies.

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