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Cisco : Big Data, Big Potential, Big Priority

March 2013 by Cisco

Enormous amounts of data are being generated daily by smartphones, sensors, video cameras, smart meters, and other connected devices, adding to the huge store of information from traditional sources. This “data avalanche” represents a potential gold mine of insights, but a new study commissioned by Cisco reveals that IT professionals and businesses are challenged to extract strategic value from their data.

The Cisco Connected World Technology Report (CCWTR) surveyed IT professionals across 18 countries to examine the IT readiness, challenges, technology gaps, and strategic value of implementing Big Data projects.

While most companies are collecting, storing and analyzing data, the report reveals that many are struggling with both the business and IT challenges of Big Data. For example, while sixty percent of survey respondents agreed that Big Data will help improve decision making and increase their competitiveness, only 28 percent report they are currently generating strategic value from their data.

Key Findings of the 2012 Cisco Connected World Technology Report (CCWTR)

Big Data, Big Potential, Big Priority

Big Data could provide a competitive edge for those who can take advantage of data in new and creative ways.

Globally, 60 percent of survey respondents said they believe Big Data can help businesses and countries to improve decision making and global competitiveness, with respondents in China (90 percent), Mexico (85 percent), India (82 percent), Brazil (79 percent) and Argentina (78 percent.) the most confident in Big Data project benefits.

Over two thirds of IT managers agree that Big Data will be a strategic priority for their companies in 2013 and over the next five years as well. Scores were highest in Argentina (89 percent), China (86 percent), India (83 percent), Mexico and Poland (both at 78 percent.)

What’s needed? More than a third (38 percent) say although they have a Big Data solution, they need a strategic plan to take advantage of Big Data.

Obstacles to Gaining Insights and Realizing Value

It managers report several obstacles to adopting Big Data solutions: security tops the list, followed by budget and staffing.

More than one in four respondents globally (27 percent) said data security and risk management is a major concern. They cited the sheer volume of data, the number of ways to access data, and lack of budget for security as the top reasons why securing data in Big Data projects is such a challenge.

Security concerns were most prevalent in China (45 percent), India (41 percent), the U.S. (36 percent) and Brazil (33 percent.)

Together, lack of budget (16%) and lack of time to study Big Data (14%) are cited by a third of respondents as their main obstacles.

Almost one in four (23 percent) said lack of enough IT staff (13%) or staff Big Data expertise 10%) as the main issue, especially in Japan (31 percent) and Brazil (30 percent).

Big Data Expected To Spur Investment in IT

More than three in four of the IT respondents (78 percent) believe Big Data will impact their organizations’ IT budgets now and in the future based on technology, personnel, and expertise requirements.

Over half the respondents expect Big Data strategies to increase their IT budgets in 2013.

Nearly three out of five (57 percent) say Big Data will increase budgets over the next three years.

Over four out of five surveyed (81 percent) said all or some Big Data projects will require cloud computing capabilities. As a result, cloud adoption may impact the rate of adoption – and benefits – of Big Data efforts.

Cloud Computing capabilities were particularly considered a necessity in China (78 percent) and India (76 percent.)

Nearly half of IT managers (48 percent) estimated their network loads would to double over the next two years, especially respondents in China (68 percent) and Germany (60 percent.)

Nearly one in four (23 percent) expect to see network loads triple over the next two years.

Only two out five surveyed (40 percent) report they are ready for the surge in network traffic.

Over one in four (27 percent) say they will need better IT policies and security measures.

Over one in five (21 percent) say they will need more bandwidth.

IT Impact

Big Data expands the role of IT: more strategic, more partnership

Big Data presents an opportunity for IT to add value and create stronger relationships across lines of business that help the bottom line and increase revenue. Big Data projects can help provide opportunities for the IT department to become more of a strategic partner within their organizations.

Not surprisingly, three out of four respondents (73 percent) said that the Information Technology department will drive their Big Data strategy. However, survey respondents said other lines of business will join IT in Big Data leadership, including: Finance (24 percent), Research and Development (20 percent), Operations (20 percent), Engineering (19 percent), Marketing (15 percent), and Sales (14 percent.)

In Argentina, a high percentage (58 percent) said Finance will help drive Big Data.

In China, a large number (61 percent) said Research and Development as well as Engineering (47 percent) will help lead Big Data.

Big Data and IT staffing

Many companies are discovering that Big Data projects need to span multiple lines of business requiring new levels of inter-company collaboration. And while technology is important to Big Data solutions, people are needed with the special skill set and creativity to imagine and realize data’s full potential. There is a growing need for more IT professionals to be trained in this specialized area: for example the role of the “data scientist” who transforms raw data into information leading to discovery and insight, communicates what they’ve learned in creative and visual ways, and suggests business impact.

Almost one in four IT managers (22 percent) say Big Data projects will significantly affect IT staffing, and over half (56 percent) say it will have at least some impact.

When asked if they were personally ready to take advantage of Big Data opportunities, 35 percent felt unreservedly ready, 36 percent expressed their readiness but felt the technologies and solutions were lacking, and one out of four (24 percent) did not feel ready at all.

Data in Motion: new data source leads to new opportunities

An important, but largely untapped type of data, is the real-time actionable data generated by sources such as devices, sensors, and video, which often provide the most value while interacting in real-time: Cisco calls this “Data in Motion.” The network can provide useful contextual information to Data in Motion such as a person or device’s location, identity, and presence (whether they are ‘available’ or not.) This data can be used by applications to make decisions or take actions that are immediately relevant, or even to predict future events. Machine-to-machine communication in factory automation is an example where Data in Motion could be extremely valuable in optimizing a production process. According to the Cisco® Visual Networking Index Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast for 2012 to 2017, there will be more than 1.7 billion machine-to-machine connections by 2017.

Three out of every four respondents (73 percent) plan to include data from digital sensors, smart meters, video, and other non-traditional networked “smart devices” into their Big Data plans.

Adoption is in the early stage: only one third of survey respondents globally (33 percent) have a plan in place to take advantage of these new data sources.

The exceptions are China (64 percent), India (59 percent) and Argentina (50 percent) where IT managers report their companies have already implemented plans to use these new data sources.

The data deluge: where is all that data coming from?

Many types of information are collected and/or used today, including both structured and unstructured data.

Survey respondents cited these data sources as the most common for their companies:

74 percent are gathering current data.

55 percent have collected historical data.

48 percent bring in data from monitors and sensors.

40 percent take advantage of real-time data that is used and then discarded. Countries with a much higher usage of real-time data were: India (62 percent), the U.S. (60 percent), and Argentina (58 percent.)

32 percent are collecting unstructured data, such as video. At 56 percent China is well above the global average for gathering unstructured data.

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