Analytics and Big Data have been receiving a lot of press attention recently – ranging from attempts to describe and define them, to assessments of how organisations can monetise their data.

Within an Irish context questions such as the following are being asked:

  • How big is the average Irish analytics team?
  • What industries in Ireland are using analytics?
  • Are companies in Ireland planning to expand their analytics teams in 2015?

While there have been a number of European and international surveys of the analytics industry there has not been a specifically Irish survey taking the pulse of the analytics industry in Ireland. For this reason The Analytics Store launched the Irish Data Analytics Landscape Survey 2014-2015 in December 2014.

Survey Highlights

The survey was conducted online in December 2014. Overall there were 94 survey responses, 75 of which completed the survey. We omit incomplete responses, so include 75 responses in our analysis.

Survey Participant Profile

  • Almost 70% of participants use analytics either frequently or almost always in their decision making processes. This shows that the majority of participants in the survey are from organizations currently using analytics.
  • The survey responses came primarily from people in large companies (56%) , with 15% coming from medium sized companies and 29% from small companies.
  • The majority of participants (over 75%) came from the banking and finance, IT, and services sectors.

Organising Analytics Highlights

  • Most participants are using analytics to ensure greater accuracy in decision making (68%) and/or to remove “gut instinct” from decision making (45%).
  • Implementing successful data analytics projects is not without its challenges, and the most common challenge reported is the difficulty in hiring suitably qualified staff (45%), followed by insufficient relevant data (35%).
  • Where to house an analytics team is a perennial question at analytics conferences. In this survey 34% of participants worked in organisations where analytics belonged to a line of business, 21% worked in organisations in which analytics belonged to IT, and 10% worked in organisations in which analytics belonged to a specific analytics team.
  • It is promising for the Irish analytics industry that over half of the people surveyed work in companies that plan to hire new analytics staff in the coming year.

Analytics Applications Highlights

  • Sales and marketing dominate the use of analytics, followed by finance and operations, which is consistent with international surveys.
  • It is interesting to see that 15% of the survey participants worked in organisations at which analytics was being used in human resources. This is a growing trend that is also seen internationally.
  • Almost all participants used reporting, and over two thirds performed statistical and exploratory analysis.
  • Over half of the participants reported using some aspects of advanced analytics (for example predictive modelling or forecasting), which speaks to the maturity of the practice of analytics in Irish companies.
  • Participants primarily reported using transactional data in their analytics work.
  • The use of unstructured data (for example text, audio, images or video) is growing with 20% of respondents reporting its use.
  • SQL and Excel are the most commonly used tools, and remain workhorses on most analytics projects. After this there were a wide spread of tools, with the open source programming language R being the next most commonly used tool.
  • For advanced analytics tools there seems to be an even balance between GUI-based tools (for example IBM SPSS, SAS Enterprise Miner and RapidMiner), and programming languages (for examples Base SAS, R and Python).
  • 28% of respondents had used one or more Big Data specific tools. The most commonly used Big Data tools were Hadoop, Hive, and Spark.

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