Data from Connotate asked 800 companies about their Big Data expenditure- a massive $4.3 billion last year.  It has been touted the story here is  60% of companies that have spent big on Big data don’t know if it is worth it yet (see graph), which is pretty damning.  Our interpretation of the data is slightly different and perhaps more damning;  that 80% either don’t know yet if it is worth it or will never know if it is worth it. If we forecast on those who already know, 50% of Big Data projects will never be able to justify their spend.

For awhile we have been expounding to anyone who would listen that this “Big Data” fad, could be counter productive as it is blinding people to the fundamental principles that must accompany data projects; clear deliverables and  concrete outcomes for projects with incremental achievements. This fad is making organisations, both profit and non-profit, jump into spending big on projects in a desperate attempt to get on the bandwagon without clearly working out what the project will deliver and what are the  testable success outcomes.

Why is this important? Couple of reasons:

1. Any data project can get very messy, very quickly. Data projects, perhaps more then anything else a business can do, can easily lose itself in its own magnificence so that before you know it you are navel gazing at the data with its original purpose too vague to be remember,end up as a terabyted terror that everyone is too scared to remove.

2. There will be a day that the budget decision makers, who signed off on the expenditure will come back and ask for tangible benefit to the organisations, if, as this report mentions, a potential 80% of companies are unable to justify the expenditure in ROI, the only language the budget decision makers will understand and this will fundamentally change how data projects are seen by the organisation.  We have been here before, tech is very good at making vague promises on technology advancements, anyone old enough can remember how the large investments in the earlier part of this Noughties came back to bite as its value proposition was to vague.

I hope this is taken as a word of caution to all those embracing “Big Data:”, I hate that phrase, it would be much more constructive to use “Intelligent Data” or “Deliverable Data”.

(Will be writing a cheat sheet on creating ROI for data soon….)


Article by Business Insider here