Someone once told me that 77 per cent of research findings find in favour of the company commissioning the work. And then there's comedian Vic Reeves' quote that 88.2 per cent of statistics are made up, which brings us to some recent figures released by Capgemini.
The consultancy firm recently teamed up with business intelligence specialist Informatica to produce a report called The Big Data Payoff, which basically attacked internal IT teams.
The report stated that, according to its findings, only 27 per cent of organisations had run profitable big data projects. That's a lot of missing RoI. It went on to say that CIOs shouldn't be in charge, and that chief operating officers or chief digital officers in charge of big data projects are more likely to generate profits than CIOs.
Mark Powell, UK head of insights and data at Capgemini, summarised his firm's message, in case it's not already obvious given that this is a consultancy trying to sell its services to the board.
He said that deriving benefits from big data is a business-wide concern and not just something for the IT team. "In order for big data to truly take off, businesses need to stop looking at it on a project-by-project basis and something just for the CIO to deal with," he said.
I'm not suggesting for a moment that the report's findings are made up, although, of course, findings can be skewed by the types of people you decide to include and exclude with your qualifying questions, and the way those questions are phrased, but I think the interpretation is insulting and transparently self-serving.
The message, in plainer English, is: ‘Your IT team is a dinosaur, a barrier to the successful deployment of analytics technologies. It doesn't understand the business, and as a result you don't get RoI. Sack the team, hire us and our mates at Informatica and get a proper strategy and your results will improve.'
Capgemini has a vested interest in talking down the value of internal IT teams and building a wedge between the board and the internal IT staff so that it can sell consultancy services and projects.
That's not to say that all of the firm's findings are entirely invalid. As with all good lies, there's a hard kernel of truth in what it is saying. Enterprises really do struggle to realise the potential of big data analytics, just not for the reasons that Capgemini suggests.
An underlying and board-supported strategy is critical, and the successful organisations are more likely to be a good way along the road to digital transformation, and so are likely to have a CDO.
But the reasons some projects fail isn't because the CIO, or the broader IT team, owns the analytics, it's down to investment, skills, ambition and the backing of the board.
When we conducted our own research into the area earlier this year we found that organisations can be divided into four camps in their big data efforts. These are Leading, Progressing, Following and Failing.
Leaders are likely to be large, well-funded organisations, often in telecoms, technology, business services, finance or media, with a culture of embracing innovation, risk and change. They have a collaborative management structure, and are highly likely to recognise the value of data and analytics at all levels, with dedicated funding set aside for it.
These are the firms that are finding great success with big data, and those that struggle do so are unwilling or unable to adopt the same culture and strategy.
Failing firms, for instance, are liable to be risk-averse and cost-driven. They have a rigid and hierarchical management structure, with analytics limited to the IT department and with funding dependent on margins.
So in summary, it's nothing to do with IT ownership, although analytics can and should be spread throughout the business. The real difference between big data success and failure is far more nuanced.
The full Computing Big Data Review 2016 is available to download free of charge.
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