Big data driving analytics investments

New sources of data, new strategic imperatives require new and better tools

As healthcare organizations try to make hay with big data, venturing into new areas such as predictive analytics and data discovery, they're ramping up their investments in analytics and business intelligence tools, according to a new survey from Lavastorm Analytics.

Lavastorm polled more than 600 technology professionals in healthcare and other industries about their plans for 2013. Three-quarters of the respondents (75 percent) indicated they still routinely use Excel for self-service analytics processes. R programming language was another popular tool, used by 35 percent of respondents.

Of the remaining 24 self-service analytics tools, 17 of them were used by less than 10 percent of the audience, according to Lavastorm, showing the diversity of technologies used to derive value from data and optimize business performance.

But as big data continues to grow, the poll shows that nearly 60 percent of respondents plan to increase their analytic investments this year in a number of areas as they recognize that their existing tools are limited in their ability to handle complex analytics.

Respondents cite three main challenges: gleaning insights from data (25 percent), getting access to data (22 percent) and gaining the ability to integrate and manipulate data (19 percent).

Asked about the specific areas of their analytics programs where investment is needed most to fix these challenges, 53 percent of those polled said people would be the primary area of investment, and 51 percent said they plan to invest more in tools.

Predictive analytics (51 percent), big data (35 percent), dashboards (32 percent), reporting (31 percent), and data exploration and discovery (30 percent) were ranked as the top five areas for analytics investments, according to Lavastorm.

Meanwhile, 27 and 24 percent of respondents, respectively, said investment in both advanced visualization tools and self-service analytic tools for business users will increase.

“Ideally, reporting would fall off everyone’s radar almost completely when it comes to investment because it’s mature and newer analytic approaches, such as data discovery, can provide significantly more value,” said Loren Johnson, senior analyst at Frost & Sullivan, in a press statement. “The clear priorities shown in this survey are data discovery and improved methods of gathering, manipulating and analyzing information from disparate sources.”

The poll also shows an uptick in the use of unstructured data or new data sources (27 percent of respondents) and a shortage of analytic professionals (25 percent of respondents).

Lavastorm CEO Drew Rockwell said the survey reflects "analytics-related growing pains" in healthcare and other industries as they deal with new data sources, new technologies and new strategic priorities.

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