Fortune 1000 to ‘urgently’ invest in Big Data, AI in 2019 in fear of digital rivals

Investment may be on the rise, but data-driven organizations are a long way off.

The world's largest and most successful companies are pouring investment into Big Data, analytics, and artificial intelligence (AI), but fear -- rather than the opportunity to profitably leverage data -- is the driving factor.

According to strategic advisors NewVantage Partners, the "fear of disruption' by rivals using data and AI to their advantage in an increasingly competitive global landscape will fuel additional investment into these technologies over 2019.

The firm's latest survey, "Data and Innovation: Leveraging Big Data and AI to Accelerate Business Transformation," was compiled based on responses from C-level executives at Fortune 1000 organizations including American Express, Capital One, Ford, General Motors, Johnson & Johnson, and Mastercard.

The research (.PDF) suggests that 91.6 percent of Fortune 1000 companies are increasing Big Data and AI-related investments, with 91.7 percent of respondents saying that investment is required to stay both agile and competitive.

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The opportunity to properly harness the vast streams of data that an average enterprise now collects can lead to enhanced profitability by giving companies a clear insight into their customers, purchase patterns, and business trends. AI can further streamline the process of changing bulk data into actionable intelligence.

However, investment alone does not equate to an immediate transformation into a data-driven business able to easily move with business trends or consumer demands -- and for many, the decision to invest in Big Data and AI may not simply be due to the potential benefits.

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According to the survey, 75 percent of respondents said the reality is somewhat different, as their investment in these technologies is based on "fear of disruption from data-driven digital competitors" alongside a need to improve agility.

In addition, 87.8 percent said there is now an "urgency" to invest as 55 percent of companies have now poured at least $50 million into their own Big Data and AI projects.

Despite this feeling of urgency, only 62.2 percent of enterprise players are currently reporting measurable results from their investments, and only 47.6 percent say they are currently competing in the data analytics market.

The number of organizations which consider themselves data-driven has also declined from 37.1 percent in 2017 and 32.4 percent in 2018 to 31 percent today.

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According to the report, only 7.5 percent of companies face technology-related obstacles to implementing Big Data and AI initiatives. Instead, cultural issues -- such as people and existing processes -- represent the bulk of the challenge today.

"Fortune 1000 companies have come to increasingly recognize that they must become more adept at leveraging their data assets if they are to compete successfully against highly-agile data-driven competitors," says NewVantage Partners CEO Randy Bean. "As data volumes and data sources proliferate at greater and greater rates, Fortune 1000 companies have accelerated their investment in Big Data and AI initiatives [...] for many, fear of disruption has been a motivating factor in fueling investment in Big Data and AI initiatives."

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