Big Data Helping Midmarket Companies With Critical Decisions

According to a global survey of midmarket executives by Dell Software, with Competitive Edge Research Reports, big data projects have made a significant shift from their enterprise roots, and have become a critical decision-making factor for midmarket companies across the globe. Survey findings show midmarket organizations today overwhelmingly believe in the potential of big data projects to help them solve tangible business problems, and they are backing up that belief with action, with budgets for big data projects expected rise to an average of $6 million over the next two years.

Big data has been considered the domain of enterprise organizations and not necessarily a relevant challenge or opportunity for midmarket companies. The survey, though, of big data initiatives in the midmarket, reveals just the opposite. Big data initiatives, enabled by new analytics tools and strengthening ties between business and IT leaders, are helping midsize organizations achieve the improved product quality and decision making once reserved for large enterprises.

The survey data shows that 41% of respondents have one or more big data projects already in place, with another 55% planning to start one the foreseeable future. Further results show that more midmarket firms plan to use big data analysis to grow their businesses, rather than just find ways to cut costs. Additional findings include:

  • 80% of survey respondents agree that they need to better analyze their rapidly expanding data collections. Among their top goals: Improve product quality, seize business opportunities and speed decision-making
  • 89% of respondents, with a big data initiative in progress, report significant improvements in company decision making
  • Respondents expect big data budgets to rise from between $2 million and $5 million up to an average of $6 million in the next two years as companies invest more in hardware, software and training
  • The biggest drivers of big data project success are IT/business collaboration, proper skills, and performance management to gauge the effects of big data initiatives
  • The most influential departments in big data projects are IT and sales/marketing
  • The most valuable technologies for midmarket companies running big data initiatives are real-time data processing, predictive analytics and data visualization tools

Survey respondents’ report that their top three project goals are to provide better quality products and services, take advantage of new business opportunities, and improve the quality and speed of decision-making. Those goals are followed closely by gaining a better understanding of customer needs, having the ability to respond quickly to competitive threats, and improving the effectiveness of their marketing programs.

Although many midmarket companies are just now getting started with big data projects, the early results show those projects have had an immediate and overwhelmingly positive impact on their organization’s productivity and success, says the report. According to the survey, organizations with big data projects in flight, report far greater levels of satisfaction with productivity and decision:

  • 50% of organizations with a big data initiative in flight are satisfied with the quality and speed of their decision making, compared to just 23% among those yet to kick off a big data project
  • 49% of organizations with a big data project in progress are satisfied with their ability to improve product quality, compared to just 32% of those organizations still in the planning phase
  • 47% of organizations in production with a big data initiative are satisfied with their ability to identify and take advantage of new business opportunities, compared to 24% of those organizations whose initial big data project is still in development
The most often cited prerequisite of midmarket project success, says the report, is collaboration between IT and business units. 41% of respondents say that strong cooperation between the two groups is needed in order for an initiative to succeed. Other commonly cited success factors include:
    • A strong connection between data analytics and performance management in the organization, cited by 37% of respondents.
    • The availability of required skills, possessed by data scientists within the organization, is cited by 33% of respondents
    • The documentation of complete and accurate business requirements, cited by 32% of respondents

Managing data complexity remains the most significant obstacle midmarket companies face as they look to fully embrace the potential benefits of a data-driven approach, concludes the report. According to the survey, 40% of organizations consider the need to manage a wide variety of new data types and structures to be a significant challenge, while 24% are similarly challenged by what they perceive to be a lack of easy-to-use, cost-effective data cleansing tools. In addition, most midmarket organizations still have not yet incorporated social media and other big data sources into their analytics mix, meaning a potentially significant source of analytic insight remains largely untapped.

Darin Bartik, Executive Director, Dell Software, notes that… when organizations of any size focus on improving the quality of their business processes by becoming more analytical and data-driven, the potential benefits are limitless… the early success midmarket companies are seeing… encourages more growth and investment… with additional ROI… as they dive further into different datasets and embrace ever-improving analytic capabilities… “

For additional information about the study, please visit Dell here.

 

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