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Big-data strategies could boost revenue 25%, survey suggests

Asia-Pacific companies could boost revenue by at least 25 per cent by using big data, says Hitachi Data Systems Corporation (HDS), a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi Ltd.

Almost half of the firms surveyed in the Asia-Pacific region believe that big data can improve revenue by 25 per cent or more, with HDS projecting a potential US$250-billion (Bt8 trillion) revenue increase among the more than 500 companies surveyed. However, more than half of firms have made little or no progress in their big-data strategies.

Wikipedia defines "big data" as a collection of data sets "so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using on-hand database-management tools or traditional data-processing applications".

Executives at HDS believe it is essential for business executives to adopt a new approach where they think of data as a "capital asset" and to define a holistic big-data strategy that will deliver insights and intelligence. This change in focus will enable organisations to innovate with information and generate incremental income.

"Today, most organisations have a limited data-capital 'budget' that prevents them from realising the full potential of the information they hold," said Neville Vincent, HDS senior vice president and general manager for Asia-Pacific.

"Staff members long for more information and realise its revenue potential, but lack access to it. It is time for C-level [chief-level] executives to ensure cultural alignment throughout their organisations, and to treat data like a capital asset that can bring a significant impact to their business.

"Our vision is for businesses of all shapes and sizes to use advanced technologies to realise the value of their organisation's data. Members of the IT [information technology] department need to be involved in the business planning cycle much earlier and more tightly integrated to the business in order to deliver essential information and insights to the people who can use it to drive business innovation and realise incremental income."

Promising benefits

The results of the HDS-sponsored survey were published by the Economist Intelligence Unit in a report titled "The Hype and the Hope: The Road to Big Data Adoption in Asia-Pacific". The survey was conducted with more than 500 business executives.

Results show that Asia-Pacific firms have had limited success so far in implementing big-data practices. While a third say they are well advanced, more than half say they have made only limited progress. Some 80 per cent of front-line employees said that they believed improved access to data was critical, with only 19 per cent able to access the data they need.

Despite the lack of progress, respondents believe in the ability of big data to improve their businesses: More than 70 per cent say it can deliver gains in productivity, profitability and innovation.

The reasons for slow adoption of big-data strategies are diverse. Respondents cite poor internal communication and information sharing as well as a lack of in-house skills and software. Nearly two-fifths say their company's big-data strategy has not been well communicated.

The limited take-up also flies in the face of the wider belief that effective use of data matters; more than three-quarters believe it is critical to success.

Telecommunications (67 per cent), consumer goods (57 per cent) and financial services (52 per cent) industries are leaders in recognising that big data can greatly improve their understanding of customer needs.

However, more than 60 per cent of the firms in the financial-services and consumer-goods industries have not started any big-data programmes. Healthcare and life science are lagging further behind - 72 per cent of them have not started any such programmes.


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