Global spending on big data technologies will continue to grow at a double-digit rate to surpass $200m by the start of the next decade, analyst IDC has claimed. But, in a study published concurrently, rival market watcher Gartner is predicting a decline in growth as fewer end users invest in big data over the next few years, with many having found their projects "stuck at the pilot stage".
IDC's numbers predict that the worldwide market for big data and analytics will swell 11.3 per cent year on year in 2016 to a total worth of $130.1bn. Its compound annual growth rate between now and 2020 is forecast to stand at 11.7 per cent, driving annual revenue to $203bn in 2020. The research house named "banking, discrete manufacturing, process manufacturing, central government, and professional services" as the five key vertical markets for big data, accounting for almost half of overall sales.
Horizontally, the upper mid-market and enterprise space will be the biggest adopters, IDC claims. In 2020 $154bn in big data and analytics investments will be made by organisations with 500 employees or more. This represents more than 76 per cent of the global total.
"This year and over the life of the forecast, we're expecting to see healthy growth in spending on big data and analytics technologies from nearly all industries, including banking and telecommunications," said Jessica Goepfert, IDC's programme director for customer insights and analysis. "In our end-user research, respondents from organisations in these industries are placing a high priority on big data and analytics initiatives over other technology investments."
But the outlook for the big data sector appears somewhat less rosy if Gartner's research is to be believed. In data published this week, the analyst noted that "big data investments continue to rise but are showing signs of contracting".
Garner claimed that many firms have struggled to move their big data projects beyond the initial stage. Although almost three in four firms have invested in big data or plan to do so, only 15 per cent of survey respondents have got their project into production stage - only one point up from the 14 per cent that had done so in 2015. The research firm indicated that "many remain stuck at the pilot stage".
"Investment in big data is up, but the survey is showing signs of slowing growth with fewer companies having a future intent to invest," said Gartner research director Nick Heudecker. "The big issue is not so much big data itself, but rather how it is used. While organisations have understood that big data is not just about a specific technology, they need to avoid thinking about big data as a separate effort."
In contrast to IDC's vision, Heudecker went on claim that "big data projects appear to be receiving less spending priority than competing IT initiatives". Gartner finds that only 11 per cent of those end users that have already invested in big data considered those investments to be as important as other IT initiatives undertaken by their organisation.
"This could be due to the fact that many big data projects don't have a tangible return on investment that can be determined upfront," added Heudecker. "Another reason could be that the big data initiative is a part of a larger funded initiative. This will become more common as the term ‘big data' fades away, and dealing with larger datasets and multiple data types continues to be the norm."
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