Big data ‘spreads beyond IT and marketing’

Written by Peter Walker

The benefits of big data are spreading from IT and marketing teams to other departments like finance and sales, according to DLA Piper's 2018 Tech Index.

The law firm commissioned Coleman Parkes Research to interview 350 executives from European technology firms, members of the investment community with a tech focus, and government officials focused on tech policy.

It found that finance (four per cent) and sales (one per cent) ranked the lowest among departments which could utilise the benefits of big data in its 2016 survey, but the latest results showed a significant shift, with each department rising to 22 per cent and 21 per cent respectively.

The benefit of big data is still more prevalent in other departments, like IT (70 per cent), marketing (55 per cent) and customer services (23 per cent), but the conditions for commercialisation and productive use of big data appear to be spreading across tech businesses.

The survey also found that challenges for big data in the tech sector are decreasing. Concern over the most widely reported challenge, protecting data, was down to 58 per cent in 2018 from 62 per cent in 2016, while skills or resources to analyse data or take on big data initiatives is down to 46 per cent from 56 per cent.

Cloud computing also appears to have reached a level of maturity, with 92 per cent of respondents stating they have a cloud strategy in place in 2018. Combined with falling concerns around data privacy (47 per cent in 2018, compared to 55 per cent in 2016), the findings suggests a growing confidence in the cloud, even during a period of prominent challenges around the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Kit Burden, global co-head of DLA Piper's Technology Sector, said that from self-scan checkouts to automated chat-bots, consumer experience is becoming less personal, in terms of human contact.

“But with the adoption and integration of big data across business departments in tech, there is an opportunity to make the experience far more personalised instead,” he stated, adding: “By developing faster AI to process data and more advanced cyber security systems to protect it, a panoramic view of the customer can be created – what we are seeing is big data coming of age and the impact is going to be profound."

The tech sector’s growing maturity is also reflected in respondents' confidence in their cyber security measures, with 73 per cent stating that they feel "fairly secure" against attack. However, businesses are not resting on their laurels and when asked about how concerned they were about cyber breaches – 44 per cent of companies rated their worry level in the highest three response options.