Asia’s Big Data problem


By Sabine Vollmer

Asian companies are eager to embrace Big Data, but most are lagging in implementing their ambitious plans, according to a survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), which surveyed more than 500 senior executives and frontline managers in Asia Pacific.

The study, which examined why adoption of Big Data is slower than expected in the region, found that 70% of respondents think Big Data can deliver gains in productivity, profitability and innovation. Yet more than half (58%) said they had made only limited progress in accessing and analysing the increasing amounts of data that are generated and hold clues to new corporate insights and opportunities.

Information silos and a lack of communication and collaboration posed the biggest barriers to Big Data adoption in Asia Pacific: Ninety-one per cent of respondents in the EIU survey said they encountered them. The problems seemed particularly bad in Singapore, Malaysia and India and at smaller companies.

The gap between Big Data ambition and adoption exists worldwide. In a survey of 720 IT and business leaders, technology consulting firm Gartner found that 64% of respondents have invested or planned to invest in Big Data technology in 2013.

“Adoption is still at the early stages with less than 8% of all respondents indicating their organisation has deployed Big Data solutions,” Frank Buytendijk, Gartner’s research vice president, said in a statement. “Twenty per cent are piloting and experimenting, 18% are developing a strategy, 19% are knowledge gathering, while the remainder has no plans or don’t know.”

The Gartner survey also determined that North American companies were most likely to invest in Big Data technology, while companies in Asia had the most ambitious Big Data plans.

So why do companies in Asia Pacific have such a hard time implementing their plans and gaining value from Big Data? The results of the EIU survey provide a glimpse of the biggest culprits:

  • 42% of respondents lacked suitable software.
  • 40% lacked in-house skills to access and analyse the data.
  • 36% experienced unwillingness to share data or information about Big Data strategies within their companies.
  • 32% blamed overly complicated reports.
  • 31% said analysis to yield useable insights was missing.
  • 22% blamed department divisions.
  • 18% said buy-in from management was lacking.

Related CGMA Magazine content:

Five Ways to Become More Data-Centric”: Companies have the data, and finance professionals have the skills to help turn that data into insight. That’s one takeaway of a new CGMA report, which examines the state of Big Data and the impact it can have on business in the future.

Six Key Components of Analytics-Based Performance Management”: When business analytics are applied to intelligence within an organisation, deep insight and foresight are produced.

Companies Not Tapping Into Big Data, US CIO Survey Says”: A majority of US chief information officers say their companies aren’t harvesting information on customers, and even those that are doing so have not necessarily turned Big Data into business insight, according to a Robert Half survey of 1,400 CIOs.

Sabine Vollmer (svollmer@aicpa.org) is a CGMA Magazine senior editor.