Harnessing big data is becoming standard practice for IT and marketing teams in technology, but DLA Piper's 2018 Tech Index reveals that a revolution may now be underway in finance and sales departments as well. Responses from 350 tech sector senior executives in Europe indicate that compared to 2016, organizations are increasingly identifying new opportunities in these additional departments, indicating a move towards widespread adoption of big data in the tech sector.
Finance (4%) and sales (1%) ranked the lowest among departments which could utilize the benefits of big data in the 2016 survey. The latest results show a significant shift in approach, however, with each department rising to 22% and 21% respectively.
While the benefit of big data is clearly prevalent in other departments, like IT (70%), marketing (55%) and customer services (23%), conditions for commercialisation and productive use of big data appears to be spreading across tech businesses.
The survey also found that challenges for big data in the tech sector are decreasing. This could indicate the emergence of a critical mass of skills and conditions for widespread use. Concern over the most widely reported challenge, protecting data, is down to 58% in 2018 from 62% in 2016, while skills or resources to analyse data or take on big data initiatives is down to 46% from 56%, and collection and mining of data is down to 41% from 52%.
Cloud computing also appears to have reached a level of maturity, with 92% of respondents stating they have a cloud strategy in place in 2018, which provides the ideal platform to deploy big data techniques across departments. Combined with falling concerns around data privacy (47% in 2018, compared to 55% in 2016), the findings suggests a growing confidence in the cloud, even during a period of prominent challenges around GDPR.
Kit Burden, Global Co-Head of DLA Piper's Technology Sector, said: "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. 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."
For tech businesses trying to harness big data across different departments, the ability to utilize and deploy cloud computing, cyber security and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies is critical. Responses to questions in the 2018 Tech Index across these fields show an increasing readiness for this to happen.
The growing maturity of the tech sector is also reflected in respondents' confidence in their cyber security measures with 73% 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% of companies rated their worry as 8, 9 or 10.
Acceptance of AI is also on the rise. The Tech Index suggests that as AI increases its reach across businesses in all industry sectors, the initial fear factor that inhibited its growth seems to be diminishing. Down from 47% in 2016 to just over a third in 2018, fewer respondents see acceptance of AI / robotics in the market due to potential job losses as a key drawback. A bigger obstacle for businesses looking to utilize AI across departments may be the cost of investment, these concerns persist even if they have fallen from 50% in 2016 to 46% in 2018.