A vast majority (83%) of South African companies believe that using big data will help them to improve their decision-making; however, most organisations are battling to implement a technology that will take advantage of this.
EMC yesterday released the findings of a survey that asked 803 IT decision makers in South Africa for their perspective on the challenges and opportunities that big data and IT transformation – and related skills – can present to their companies.

The South African results will be added to the 36 country-level survey results being collected through EMC Forum events taking place around the world between June and November 2013. The series will conclude with an announcement of the global results in December.

The survey found that, in South Africa, big data is giving rise to markedly improved decision making and is having a significant impact on companies’ competitive differentiation and ability to avert risk.

While 83% of respondents in South Africa reported that decisions in their organisation could be improved with better use of data, 53% agree that their senior teams trust big data insights to make truly transformative business decisions.

In addition, 38% have achieved a competitive advantage as a result of big data analytics technology and 64% believe that industries that succeed will be the same ones using such tools.

A majority (61%) of respondents agree that big data technology will prove vital in identifying and protecting against cyber attacks – which could be crucial as only 63% of respondents in South Africa are confident that they could fully recover all their data should they need to.

However, in South Africa, 23% of companies surveyed have no current plans for implementing big data technology.

While budget (64%) was the most important factor for overall business decision making, the most common reason cited by 56% of respondents as the inhibitor to big data adoption was the lack of a clear business case or proven return on investment (ROI).

As companies in South Africa continue to look to IT innovation to compete locally and on the global stage:
* The business priorities driving IT transformation in South Africa are most commonly business process/operational efficiencies (52%) and improved governance and compliance (41%);
* 78% report that their business sees technology investment as a strategic way of achieving its goals;
* 78% believe it will be a challenge to have these skills keep pace with IT innovation over the next three years;
* 64% of respondents in South Africa believe their organisation has the right level of skills and knowledge to complete business priorities successfully; and
* 67% of respondents in South Africa agree that the biggest barrier to coping with business priorities is cultural.

Servaas Venter, country manager of EMC Southern Africa, comments: “This research shows that companies in South Africa are increasingly seeing the transformative benefits that are achievable with big data analytics technology.

“Not only are senior management executives engaging with the idea of big data analytics but the majority of businesses are aware of the huge competitive advantages the technology brings as well as the security benefits.

“This is a core part of IT transformation, a process which South African businesses are well underway with. The majority of businesses in the region have already set out to virtualise and create cloud-enabled businesses and, even more incredibly, some have created a fully software-defined infrastructure.

“This approach, combined with big data analytics, will see the agility and competitiveness of South African businesses increase massively.”