April 06, 2012, 9:46 AM — Organisations that invest in Big Data technologies could help generate £216 billion for the UK economy and create 58,000 jobs over the next five years, according to a new study.
Big Data refers to the ever-increasing quantity of unstructured data generated by websites, social media and other sources, and the technologies being developed to gain insight from it.
"There will be direct jobs [in the industry] like data scientists and it will also lead to spin-off jobs," said Paul Jones, head of technology practice at SAS UK & Ireland, the business analytics firm that commissioned the report from The Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr).
The report, 'Data Equity: Unlocking the value of big data', found that Big Data contributed an estimated £25.1 billion to the UK economy last year. It forecast this to reach £40.7 billion a year by 2017 (£216 billion in total over the five years) as the adoption of analytics grows, from 34% in 2011 to 54% in 2017.
Big Data will benefit the UK economy by creating more business through better customer insight, improving efficiency and encouraging innovation, the report said.
For instance, the Cebr predicted that applying analytics to R&D would help drive the development of new products and services, as well as potentially create new markets, adding £24.1 billion to the UK economy by 2017.
Meanwhile, the it calculated that the government could save £2 billion in fraud detection and generate £3.6 billion through better performance management in the same period.
"We need to grasp this opportunity of employing new technologies. Previously, it was either too expensive or too hard [to adopt Big Data technologies]," said Jones.
"But now we are able to use memory not disk [to do the analytics and] the cost of that has dropped so much."
Jones believes that organisations that have not yet invested in Big Data technologies should start with their customer data.
"For most businesses, the first area to look at is your customer. For retailers or banks, for example, Big Data is an enormous opportunity to differentiate by actually getting the offer [to customers] right," he said.
"It is about tailoring appropriate offers to people and using that data to make better, quicker and more timely decisions."
He added: "Those large companies have lost that [traditional] one-to-one connection with customers and Big Data gives them the opportunity to make the connection again."