Trucks at Work

Big data, big headaches

You can’t go far in trucking without running into the term “big data” and how it’s being deployed by more and more carriers to improve efficiency while boosting profits.

Vehicle connectivity is also going to play a major role in bringing the capabilities of big data to the trucking masses, potentially even helping reshape future freight-hauling equipment, too (as this story explains).

Yet getting the full benefit of big data is becoming something of a major challenge not only for trucking but throughout the business world as a whole – a challenge centered largely on data security, privacy and data quality issues, according to a new study conducted in Europe by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Xerox.

Now, even though this study focuses on 330 top-level Western European corporate executives, it paints a portrait of the big data business journey, describing in detail how factors such as “data maturity” and poor data quality can affect any business, explained Craig Saunders, director, of the Xerox’s analytics resource center.

“Executives see the potential of data-driven intelligence taking root, but the soil is still quite rocky in spots,” he said. “The ecosystem is full of challenges.”

Here are some of Xerox’s findings where big data and business intersect:

  • Big data is key decision-driver for 2015: Three fifths (61%) of organizations said decisions made during the next year are likely to be based more on data-driven intelligence than factors such as gut feeling, opinion or experience.
  • Inaccurate data proving costly: But 70% of organizations are still encountering inaccurate data in their systems and 46% believe it’s impacting negatively on their business, requiring re-calculation or totally unusable data sets.
  • Data security and privacy: 37% of respondents rated data security and privacy as one of their biggest challenges when implementing big data strategies.
  • The study found only 20% of respondents show high competence in dealing with big data – folks cleverly dubbed “Datarati” – while 31% are shown to be clearly lagging behind in their approaches (“Data-laggards”). Most, (49%), were categorized in between these two groups, and defined as “Data-explorers.”
  • Over half (55%) of respondents in the study declare that they lack strong enough processes to ensure true data quality. To this end, 33% of respondents plan to hire more data engineers over the next 12 to 24 months, and 30% will also be looking to hire data governance developers and data scientists.

“Despite the challenges, the large majority of companies are moving forward with big data technology across a wide range of different use cases,” Saunders noted. “But there’s also a wide range of issues that keep executives up at night.”

Yet he added that most of the business executives polled by Xerox still expect a big payoff from their efforts to harness big data.

Overall, adoption of big data solutions are expected to transform businesses through providing closer engagement with customers (55%), better engagement within internal teams (54%) and supporting greater employee productivity (54%), Xerox’s survey found.

And if you don’t think any of this will affect the transportation industry, think again.

For example, Xerox noted that it’s using big data to provide transportation departments for cities such as Los Angeles with parking space management systems in the downtown areas, using information captured from sensors buried in the ground.

The same technology is being implemented by the transportation department in Washington, D.C., Xerox added, with similar technology being deployed to help read license plate numbers at toll booths, adjust parking meter rates on demand and detect the number of passengers in a vehicle cruising in high occupancy vehicle or HOV lanes.

Better break out the aspirin then, for it seems efforts to tap into and use big data for a variety of business needs will only continue to be deployed.

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