A majority of companies have a “killer application” in mind for the mountains of data filling their organizations’ storage systems, according to a new survey by the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM), a nonprofit organization that provides resources and education to information professionals. Survey respondents included 403 members of the AIIM community, who responded to a series of online questions between March 30 and April 25, 2012. IBM, EMC, Attivio, and Actuate-Xenos Group apparently provided funding, although AIIM took pains in its report to explain that its results were “independent of any bias from the vendor community.” Although 70 percent of respondents could picture a “killer application” for their business data, the majority “chose not to disclose what that application would be.” That odd reluctance aside, the survey-takers revealed much about their collective approach to data analytics. Roughly 61 percent said it would be “very useful” to link structured and unstructured datasets, while 56 percent thought that the ability to conduct “sophisticated” analytics on unstructured content (i.e., incident prediction and keyword correlation) would be “very valuable.” Roughly 9 percent of surveyed organizations already utilized either publicly available or open datasets to extract business intelligence, while another 42 percent wanted to engage in the practice. At the same time, a number of organizations are apparently struggling with the demands of data. A full 70 percent reported that researching information contained within their in-house storage was “harder” or “much harder” than searching the Web. “A lack of standardized analysis tools is given as a significant issue for improving business intelligence,” read the AIIM report. Another 26 percent of organizations reported struggling to organize content, with another 30 percent claiming poor B.I. capabilities and reporting. Around 55 percent of organizations had neither search nor analytics capabilities—compared with 8 percent that claimed ownership of both. Security within search and analytics was an expressed concern of some 64 percent of respondents. “Many organizations have plenty of data—even if it is not always the right kind of data—but they struggle to put it to any constructive use,” the report added, “either because they don’t have any analysis tools, or the tools they have aren’t sufficiently capable or accessible.” The survey respondents seemed to largely recognize a need for analyzing and correlating Big Data. But a lack of in-house expertise and sophisticated data-analysis platforms, combined with concerns over “content chaos” and security, has prevented many of those organizations from fully taking advantage of that desire. “However, most of our respondents consider that there are one or more ‘killer apps’ for big data in their organization that would provide a dramatic competitive benefit,” the report added, “or would provide much better prediction and prevention for business continuity.” Killer application or no, AIIM recommends that organizations brainstorm “blue-sky” questions (“If only we could predict,” for example) within the context of data either contained in-house or available with some searching and tools. Communication with customers could also help an organization gain deeper insight into its data needs.   Image: AIIM