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Big data arrives on UK balance sheets

Research by SAS reveals one in five large UK businesses have assigned financial value to their data on the company balance sheet

11 September 2012 - A series of research reports into big data released today by SAS, the leader in business analytics software and services, have revealed that businesses are starting to recognise the value of big data, with one in five large UK businesses assigning financial value to their data on the company balance sheet.


A recent study by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) calculated that better use of big data could add £216 billion to the UK economy between 2012 and 2017 – equivalent to 22% of the UK net debt, or more than the 2011/12 defence, NHS and education budgets combined. As the volume, velocity and variety of data captured by organisations continues to grow, so do the opportunities to use big data analytics – specifically high-performance analytics (HPA) – to drive business innovation, creation and efficiency.

UK businesses are starting to recognise this opportunity, with 44% of CFOs surveyed by Dynamic Markets for SAS believing good use of data can drive growth for the business. This figure rises among CFOs at large organisations (57%) and rises significantly among those who have quantified the value of their corporate data (70%). This indicates that those companies who truly understand the value of their big data have the most confidence in the benefits it can deliver.

The relationship between better use of data and business performance is further highlighted in a study by the Harvard Business Review which reveals that nearly three quarters (73%) of UK business leaders have seen benefits from the use of analytics, including improved financial performance (69%), cost reduction (65%), reduced risks (64%) and faster decision-making (55%). While this is promising, 40% of UK business leaders say analytics are underused in their organisation, or remain siloed.


The slow pace of change in attitudes to data is picked out by a recent Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) study for SAS, Big Data II: Lessons from the Leaders, which identifies the barriers still facing UK organisations. Shockingly, just 16% of UK businesses have a well-defined data management strategy in place, further compounded by the fact that in two-thirds of organisations (65%) data management strategies still sit with IT rather than being seen as a business issue. In addition, demand for big data skills will outstrip supply, with 47 per cent of respondents to the EIU study citing a lack of analytical skills as the biggest barrier they face.


Big data can be transformational but it's crucial that organisations are using analytics to unlock its value, with 70% of respondents to the EIU survey stating that real-time insight from data is important to the business. By adopting high-performance analytics, the time it takes to derive insight from data can be reduced from days to hours and from minutes to seconds.

"The fact that organisations recognise the value of data more than they did five years ago illustrates a change in the boardroom; that big data is the new 'corporate gold'," explained Mark Wilkinson, UK managing director, SAS UK & Ireland. "Organisations that demonstrate their understanding of what we call 'data equity' by giving it value on the company balance sheet are already seeing dividends in terms of company performance and strategic decision making. It's time that business leaders embrace high-performance analytics more widely to unleash the true value of data and drive business innovation, creation and efficiency."

About SAS

SAS is the leader in business analytics software and services, and the largest independent vendor in the business intelligence market. Through innovative solutions, SAS helps customers at more than 60,000 sites improve performance and deliver value by making better decisions faster. Since 1976 SAS has been giving customers around the world The Power to Know® .

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