SYDNEY: Over one quarter of Australian chief marketing officers (CMOs) are failing to utilise big data or regard it as just a passing trend, according to new research.

A report from Torque Data and Sweeney Research in association with the Association for Data-driven Marketing & Advertising – The big and small of big data – was based on surveys and interviews with 75 senior marketers in Australia, 60% of whom which worked in organisations with more than 500 employees.

It found that just 10% were using data well, while 27% were doing nothing at all and 8% dismissed it as "the next big fad".

But some 78% of marketers thought big data was critical and having a strong strategy would define their business in the future. There was widespread expectation that related budgets would increase (82%) over the next two years while almost two thirds (63%) saw Big Data usage increasing "a fair amount or a lot" in the same period.

Nor was the use of Big Data restricted to larger companies. The report noted that smaller companies (those with fewer than 500 employees) had higher levels of usage (38% vs 30%) and greater success with their initiatives (79% vs 71%). This was frequently due to a combination of "simpler data systems, nimbler administration and a strong drive to establish competitive advantage".

Ad News also highlighted the finding that most marketers were currently using big data to get hindsight (33%) and insight (32%), but said the biggest value would come from foresight –21% of marketers were already using it for this – and real time analytics (11%).

Oliver Rees, Torque Data CEO, had harsh words for the local marketing community. "Too many Australian marketers are verging on complacency, feeling that since no one really knows what to do they can sit back and wait," he told CMO.

"The first these marketers will know of their competitors' capability is when it negatively impacts their own business performance, and by then they'll be well behind," he added.

But Erik Heller, Sweeney's managing director, was more forgiving of a profession he saw held back by resource constraints.

"They are happy to start small, test and learn and not worry too much about this like ROI at this stage," he remarked. "In true Australian spirit, they are simply 'giving big data a go'."

Data sourced from Torque Data, Ad News, CMO; additional content by Warc staff