While few people doubt the benefits of applying data analysis to specific enterprise problems, a number of ICT market research consultancies have painted a fairly negative picture of the data analytics market in Latin America, even if several high-profile corporations have been perfecting big data projects in recent years.
Based on a global CIO survey in June 2016, Gartner found that although 27% of respondents are already using modern data analysis solutions (and 48% plan to invest in them in the next 12 months), only 15% consider their projects to be active programs as opposed to pilots, meaning little change from the 14% with active programs in 2014.
Gartner concludes that many still view advanced data analytics as something of a novelty, and prefer to continue investing in traditional IT solutions. Furthermore, only 11% considered their big data projects as important or more important than traditional IT projects, and Gartner attributed this view to the often intangible nature of the return on investment generated from big data projects.
Although the telecom sector is often cited as one of the industries at the forefront of using data analytics, the recent BNamericas ICT survey for 2017 revealed that over 70% of respondents think Latin American telcos have yet to make adequate use of the available tools.
Also, a recent CIO survey by Logicalis - global, but with more than a third of respondents coming from Latin America - found that 52% already work with big data solutions. However, only 23% of CIOs confirmed that they are involved in line of business discussions, and only 7% said that higher board members are involved in designing the company's analytics programs.
This latter point is highly relevant because a common theme in big data articles is that before investing in this technology, enterprises must carefully consider the specific problem they wish to address with these solutions, and whether the solutions will actually be effective. In parallel vendors warn against blindly investing in the technology and applying it to whatever data is available.
Data analysis is one of the cornerstones of "digital transformation", whereby a company's IT department has more of a say in the firm's development and strategy. This is because the company's future course will depend on its ability to tap into today's world of social networks, online culture, distributed computing power and high device penetration.
It is only by leveraging those elements, to achieve advances in efficiency and to tailor services for new client niches, that the company will keep up with competitors who are doing the same or started earlier.
So openness to digital transformation is indirectly another measure of data analysis adoption. Fellow tech consultancy IDC has said that one in three Latin American CEOs will put digital transformation at the center of their strategy in 2017, but finds that the proportion of companies that are at an advanced level of transformation is below the global average.
And in September, IDC specified that 37% of Latin American firms are at an advanced stage of digital transformation, including 10% that are sufficiently advanced to force their competitors to embark on the same path.
Similarly, in August, Chilean systems integrator Adexus lamented that digital transformation in Latin America is occurring much more slowly than it should, considering the availability of solutions and the awareness of IT staff/CIOs.