ANZ timid in tapping big data: Forrester

Australia and New Zealand enterprises are dragging their feet when it comes to the adoption of big data compared to other markets, with local Forrester research indicating that only about a fifth of local businesses employ the technology for market insights.

Australian and New Zealand (ANZ) businesses are yet to make the most of big data analytics for market insight, with a surprisingly small percentage of local companies employing the burgeoning technology, according to Tim Sheedy of Forrester Research.

Tim Sheedy at Dell
Tim Sheedy of Forrester Research at the 2014 Dell User Forum A/NZ in Sydney. Image: Leon Spencer/ZDNet

The study, commissioned by Dell and carried out by Forrester in September, found that only 22 percent of 150 respondents in Australia and New Zealand said that they are currently implementing or expanding a big data strategy.

By contrast, the study also found that 81 percent of respondents are using cloud infrastructure, and 87 percent are currently employing network security software.

Forrester researcher Tim Sheedy, who presented the findings at the 2014 Dell User Forum A/NZ event in Sydney this week, said that the results were surprising, given the rapid take-up of big data in other markets.

"That was the big surprise for me in that survey," said Sheedy at the event. "I thought there would be a greater maturity in that. Australia is a risk-averse economy, as is New Zealand, and we tend to make data-centric decisions, so I was surprised that when you're trying to make data-centric decisions, you're not using that data more effectively.

"It's one of the big trends, it's happening everywhere — there's more data coming in everywhere, and every day there are more opportunities to analyse data and make better decisions. But I was surprised that more people didn't have strategy to deal with that. 20 percent said they did it, but only around 10 to 15 percent planned to do anything about it. And a lot of them are still at the wait and see stage," he said.

The Forrester study found that of those businesses currently employing big data technology, the uses were for very specific cases, including fraud detection, return on investment ratios for marketing purposes, compliance, and risk management.

Forrester's findings in the antipodes stand in stark contrast to a study (PDF) by IBM, also conducted in September, which found that around 89 percent of almost 1,500 respondent decision makers from so-called "pacesetter", or technologically leading, enterprises in 13 countries said they have mature big data and analytics capabilities.

Additionally, the IBM study found that seven out of 10 respondents said that data-driven insights are integral to their organisation's decision-making process.

Meanwhile, the 2014 Enterprise Big Data study carried out by business research firm IDG found that companies are intensifying their efforts to derive value through big data initiatives, with nearly half — 49 percent — of 750 respondents already implementing big data projects or in the process of doing so in the future.

The study also found that enterprise organisations are ahead of the curve in big data and analytics implementation plans compared to small and medium-sized businesses.

Dell Australia and New Zealand managing director Angela Fox suggested that Australia and New Zealand's lag in big data uptake could be linked to the pace of local enterprises' adoption of emerging technology generally.

"There are some [businesses] out there still sorting out backup recovery and archiving," said Fox at the Dell User Forum. "You've got to get your shop in order and the foundation right, and then that sets you up for really what's a business-led transformation about analytics, and it's not just an IT initiative."

Sheedy said that although the region's big data adoption seemed surprisingly lethargic, this trend is likely to change before long.

"You can see that big data for many organisations isn't yet an organisational capability," he said. "So that's something that is certainly going to change over the next few years as we start to understand where big data and analytics is going to help our businesses."

The findings come as Dell works to ramp up its cloud and managed services portfolio in Australia, opening two new datacentre locations with Digital Realty in Sydney and Melbourne, along with a new partnership with cloud solutions provider 6YS.

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