You want the data? You can't handle the data!

Execs in government and industry are being overwhelmed by a sea of information, a new survey finds

Executives in government and industry are being overwhelmed by a sea of data, according to a survey conducted in August by Kelton Research and announced this week.

The study, sponsored by IT services firm Avanade (jointly founded by Accenture and Microsoft), sampled the opinions of 543 "C-level" executives, IT deciders and business leaders from around the globe. A key finding of the survey -- that one in three executives can't locate people in the company with the data they need -- highlights the current muddled state of affairs.

Avanade's study, "The Business Impact of Big Data," found that 62 percent of decision-makers are "frequently interrupted by irrelevant incoming data." In addition, 56 percent feel "overwhelmed by the amount of data their company manages," according to the survey.

Multiple sources contribute to this data flow, including e-mail (72 percent), Word documents (46 percent), spreadsheets (36 percent), customer databases (33 percent), presentations (21 percent) and online portals (20 percent). Despite the glut and seeming irrelevance of the data, 61 percent of the survey respondents wanted faster access to data, the study explains.

Current tools used to filter out irrelevant data in companies appear to be doing a so-so job, with 43 percent of respondents saying they weren't happy with the performance of those tools. The study pointed to enterprise search as "a critical foundation to tackle the big data problem."

Data from customers was considered to be most valuable kind for decision-making, according to the study. It found that 67 percent of the survey respondents had "invested" in, or were "seriously considering," customer relationship management (CRM) solutions. Demand for CRM solutions was found to be highest among government-sector survey participants, with 74 percent looking to CRM solutions.

Organizations were also investing in data security solutions, with 78 percent of respondents buying them or planning to do so. Government-sector respondents showed an even higher (85 percent) interest in data security solutions.

Overall, 46 percent of the survey participants pointed to bad or outdated data as leading to poor business decisions. The study suggested conceptualizing a "data life cycle" approach to better manage information in organizations.

The data lifecycle management concept includes carrying out four basic steps, according to the report. First, IT pros should identify the data sources within the company. Next, they should filter that information. An information distribution system should be set up so that it is both "automated and intelligent." Finally, the data should be applied in an ever evolving fashion. The goal is to start with data analysis but then move more toward gaining insights and enabling prediction from the data.

Those interested in reading the complete study can download it from Avanade's website here.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is the online news editor for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group sites, including, and

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Reader Comments

Wed, Nov 24, 2010

Agreed, solid article. Part of the inundation of data is not necessarily the volume, but the lack of integration. If these decision makers were able to move away from their federated environments and more towards real data sharing, they wouldn't have this problem. Dashboards would mean more and only the consolidated results would end up being delivered. One company comes to mind when thinking in this vein; Teradata.

Wed, Nov 17, 2010 Chris Parente VA

Good post. One way to address the issue is to push computational power away from the core datacenter and closer to the edge of the network. This can be done via a private cloud architecture. If you're OK with a link, this is discussed at EMC's GovCloudTalk blog:

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