Big data may be the next big thing, but many companies struggle to get their projects off the ground. According to research from TechRepublic and our sister site ZDNet, 51% of companies have not started a big data project yet.

Why is it so difficult to get started? The main reason, cited by 73% of big data adopters, was finding qualified employees to lead it forward. Other roadblocks are security, funding, and finding good vendors. Of those that hadn’t started yet, the main reason was because big data wasn’t a major priority for their organization.

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Of those that have started a big data project, 12% have well-established solutions in place, while the remaining 38% have either some solutions in place or are just starting out on their big data journey. This, of course, begs the question of whether or not it is worth pursuing. According to the research, 78% said yes.

In terms of what data they’re using, 83% said they’re using structured data, 71% were using customer data, and 68% noted that they were also using some other form of enterprise data.

For those that are using the technology, a few specific use cases have emerged. Leveraging data mining, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning applications, companies can improve efficiency, automate manual workflows, create new products or services, and boost the overall experience for the customer.