Big Data Market Segment LS
Big Data Market Segment RS
Wednesday, 26 October 2016 10:54

Big Data moves beyond IT to benefit wider business operations

Big Data moves beyond IT to benefit wider business operations Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Non-IT business leaders are still yet to fully understand the benefits of Big Data and the wider impact on their organisation, despite new research showing that it has become fully embedded in Australian business life so that it is no longer considered “hype”.

According to research by recruitment firm Robert Half, while Big Data is a concept that is instinctively linked to IT, the commissioned research shows that the IT department is not the only function benefitting from Big Data insights, demonstrating the potential of Big Data and data analytics for the wider business.

While the majority (54%) of Australian chief information officers say Big Data and data analytics have more of a direct impact on IT, the research reveals that almost one in five (18%) believe it has more influence on their operations department.

And, another 16% say it has a more marked effect on the finance department, while 7% refer to marketing and sales, with customer service (4%) and HR (1%) named as the final two business departments.

Australia CIOs cite data-driven/strategic decision-making (53%), cost reduction (51%) and getting a better overview of operational processes (41%) as the top three advantages.

David Jones, senior managing director, Robert Half Asia Pacific, says Big Data offers big potential.

“In our increasingly data-driven world, using data to make informed, strategic decisions that benefit operations in all departments and impact a company’s bottom line is crucial for any company. With all companies increasingly taking on a customer-centric approach, Big Data as such can help identify new trends, and unlock the promise of innovative business opportunities.

“Using Big Data processes to their fullest advantage isn’t without its challenges, as it is the case with emerging technologies. In order for companies to reap the benefits of Big Data, they are increasingly looking for technology professionals who are not only highly skilled in data analytics, but who are also equipped with the right amount of business and financial acumen, and who are able to clearly communicate the advantages and insights to the wider business and senior management,” Jones says.

The research also reveals that, when asked about the biggest challenges of using Big Data, 46% of CIOs say the primary challenge is the cost of data capture, followed by 43% who refer to data protection/security and 43% who say technical considerations of implementing Big Data processes are one of the biggest challenges.

Adding to these challenges, half (49%) of CIOs think their non-IT senior management team do not have enough knowledge about Big Data and the utilisation of data effectively within their organisation, which Jones says suggests Australian businesses are still in the early stages of fully utilising Big Data processes. Jones says this summation is supported by PwC’s global report on Big Data – which found the majority (61%) of Australian organisations are only ‘somewhat’ guided by data in their decision-making process, and only a select few (5%) use data and analytics to plan for the future.  

“Big Data has changed everything about the way business is done, but its value is still being optimised and harnessing its fullest potential is still considered a challenge for many businesses. Collecting and analysing Big Data, and most importantly using those insights to further improve the business, will be a vital investment for any organisation in order to secure a competitive advantage in their market.

“Businesses have to take on an enterprise-wide approach to leverage the full potential of what Big Data has to offer and senior management plays a key role. A company’s board and leaders need to be fully engaged about the impact data can have on its business operations and overall success.

“Setting up new software and program systems can demand a significant financial investment, however, once implemented and fully applied, the advantages can be significant in terms of cost reduction.

“When considering the advantages and inevitable challenges of using any new technology, Big Data definitely presents more unique opportunities for all business departments and its advantages for companies outweigh any initial obstacles,” Jones concludes.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired and is a "volunteer" writer for iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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