Indian midmarket companies caught up in big data hype

Over a third of India’s mid-market businesses are planning to spend money on big data technologies despite no return on investment information.

India’s mid-market businesses are being swept along in the hype surrounding big data technology, with over a third planning on spending money on big data technologies despite no return on investment information.

According to the latest figures from Forrester research of 430 mid-market companies in India, 35% plan to invest in big data technology and services in the next two years, but only 8% of the companies planning investment have a projected or proven ROI.

Reducing costs is the main focus for 30%, while asset utilization is the main focus for 25%.

Manish Bahl, country manager India at Forrester, said midmarket companies are getting caught in the big data hype. “Most organizations are struggling to determine the real benefits and what the right approach to big data might be. Our research shows that Indian midmarket firms are investing in big data technologies without clear business outcomes.”

Bahl said midmarket firms are mainly integrating big data technologies and applications with back-end applications. He said 83% of those investing integrating big data with Finance & Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). A total of 70% of those investing are integrating big data technology with front-end applications – including CRM, call centers and field service. 60% are integrating it with business process management (BPM) tools.

According to Forrester Telecommunications and Utilities verticals in India lead big data investments, followed by transportation and logistics. "We are also seeing increasing interest from public sector, including education and healthcare in big data technologies,” added Bahl.

Bahl warned that unrealistic expectations from the business threaten the success of big data investments. “Business leaders can get sold on hyped-up promises of big data that vendors try to sell but in reality vendors may struggle to deliver long-term business value. The expectation from the business is that big data will drive revolutionary and transformative results, and they not be satisfied with simple incremental changes. To help save IT’s reputation, CIOs must educate business leaders that big data is not a genie from Aladdin’s lamp, but a journey that will deliver incremental business results over a period of time.”

James Riley, global head of innovation at India based IT services company HCL Technologies, agrees that businesses must identify the value of big data investments to them. “The excitement around Big Data quickly needs to be translated into business value to justify the not inconsiderable investments required. Big data projects typically fail because organisations try to do too much too soon and don’t have the necessary underlying technological architecture or people to properly support it. With big data, organisations need to learn to ‘walk before they can run’ and to fully understand what is possible with big data and how it can help them achieve their corporate goals.”

Separately Gartner revealed that over 92% of CIOs, globally, have not taken their big data initiatives beyond the planning stage. The survey revealed that while 64% of the 720 organizations surveyed globally have big data investment plans, less than 8% have actually deployed big data technologies, according to Gartner.

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