Big Data

Beyond hype: 70 percent will use data analytics by 2013

Survey of over 1,300 TechRepublic and ZDNet members shows a growing expectation that data analytics and big data will have a major impact on businesses' performance in the next two years.

In November 2012, we invited TechRepublic and ZDNet members to take our Analytics/Big Data survey. Worldwide over 1,300 people responded, sharing their company's current strategy, future plans, and expectations.

The results reveal a widespread use of data analytics, but a limited deployment of big data platforms. This may change, however, given that our analysis also shows a growing expectation that data analytics and big data will have a major impact on businesses' performance in the next two years.

Majority use data analytics, but extent varies

Globally, just over half (51.7 percent) of respondents said they use data analytics in everyday decision making and processes. And that number is set to rise significantly. If those with plans to use analytics in the next 12 months (18.1 percent) follow through, a wide majority (69.8 percent) of global businesses will be using data analytics by the end of 2013.

The extent to which companies use data analytics in everyday decision making, however, varies. Globally, 21.5 percent of respondents are in the early stages of use, 16.3 percent use analytics in a limited number of business units, 7.3 percent use it in most business units, and only 6.7 percent use analytics across the organization and regard it as a core competency.

Limited use of big data platforms

Despite over 50 percent of respondents using analytics, just over 10 percent report using big data platforms. 5.5 percent of companies said they source data from a big data platform, such as Hadoop. And only 4.9 percent have an analytics capability that sources data from a data warehouse and a big data platform.

Why businesses aren't doing analytics yet

Of the companies that aren't using data analytics, just under half (48.8 percent) either aren't in an industry with lots of data (35.5 percent) or just don't see a suitable return (13.5 percent). The other half of respondents do see a potential return, but they're not using analytics because it's either not a priority right now (28.1 percent) or they lack the in-house skills to make it work (23.3 percent).

High expectations for analytics and big data

Examining the current state of big data and considering the technology's future, ZDNet's Larry Dignan recently wrote:

"If 2012 was the year of big data hype, interest and pilot projects, 2013 will bring production deployments, early returns on investment and a bit of disruption. By 2014, big data projects and systems are likely to be commonplace."

Our survey results back up Dignan's roadmap. We asked respondents to rate the potential of data analytics and big data to have a major influence on their organization's performance and success over the next two years, with a score of 1 being no potential and 10 being great potential. The data shows growing expectations for the technology.

Globally, 28.3 percent rated data analytics and big data a 7 or higher on the scale for 2012. That number jumps to 40.5 percent in 2013 and 53.4 percent in 2014.

Revenue and customers top data analytics/big data priority list

Given these high expectations, what are companies hoping to get from their data analytics/big data investments? In a word, revenue.

We asked respondents to rate the priority of business outcomes from their data analytics/big data initiatives. Revenue generation topped the list, with 62.5 percent of respondents rating it a major or top priority. 57.3 percent say a better understanding of clients/stakeholders is a major or top priority. Creating a better understanding of markets/marketing analysis (57.1 percent), productivity gains (54.3 percent), and customer acquisition (51.1 percent) round out the top five priorities.

Furthermore, respondents expect to see payback on their investments relatively soon. Around 60 percent of businesses are looking for payback on their investments within two years, with over 20 percent expecting payback within just one year. Only 11.8 percent believe it will take more than three years to achieve payback.

Additional big data resources

TechRepublic Pro original research

TechRepublic Pro, TechRepublic’s premium service, provides information that IT leaders need to solve today’s toughest IT problems and make informed decisions. This article features preliminary results from the ZDNet Big Data Priorities 2013 report sponsored by D&B. TechRepublic Pro will publish more results from the full report in early 2013. Visit for information on becoming a member.


Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...


Hi Bill

Good stuff.  Do you have this data, regarding propensity to move toward using Big Data, by industry vertical?

Best wishes, Bob


Great article - thanks Bill. Hope to use this to alert my people to get on with it.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

'data analytics' in a way different to the traditional one. For as far back as people have kept records people have looked at the data and analysed it to look for trends of other advantages from understanding what's going on. This is a basic behind a lot of the financial and accounting needs forecasting done on a daily basis by accountants for many decades or more. In the logistics field this is essential daily work to ensure you have sufficient materials and spares to get the work done, same applies in manufacturing and sales. Just how do you see this being different, or being done different in the future as applied to IT?


Most people, including most managers, haven't the foggiest idea of which method of analysis to apply to any data. And even if they do, too few of them are honest enough, even to themselves, to ethically report on all situations. Truth is, if someone is quoting statistics to you, the odds are they are either lying, or wrong.

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

As you rightly point out, some industries or specific industry segments have used data analytics for decades--if not centuries. But now, we're seeing a rapid proliferation of data analytics across the entire corporate/organizational landscape. Organizations that didn't see analytics as useful are rethinking that assumption, and they're pushing analytics further down into the decision making structure--beyond just directors and managers. Technology is driving much of this change. Not only can data be collected, stored, analyzed, and disseminated more easily than in the past, there's a lot more of it. At the most basic level, people won't use data analytics (or big data) any differently in the future than they have in the past--to help them make a decision. It's just the process that's changing. But, in a way that will transform both business and our society as a whole.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

working I've done things from counter sales, to manufacturing, to logistics, and accounting - in every endeavour everyone in a supervisory role of some sort collected and kept data on the work and analysed it, but usually in their head. Heck, I've even seen brickies doing it to work out if a particular labourer was pulling his weight or not. I suspect the differences are now a lot of it is being collected electronically, and it's also affected lower levels of admin people than before. But I did wonder what I was not seeing in the article.

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