Europe is drowning in the big datai maelstrom. New research reveals that across Europe, mid-market firms are struggling to cope, overwhelmed by the sheer volume and variety of information impacting the business. They are finding it hard to harness the potential of big data for business benefit.

The survey, commissioned by information management company Iron Mountain, found that half (52 per cent) of managers who believe big data could benefit their business have no idea how to achieve this value.

Of the 21 per cent of respondents who said they have no plans to use big data, a large proportion (38 per cent) said this is because they don’t know how to harness the sheer volume of incoming information. Ten per cent of respondents say that senior executives do not believe there is an issue, and this figure rises to 21 per cent in the manufacturing sector.

The study questioned 760 operational managers in IT, marketing, customer service and legal departments across five business sectors in France, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK.

“Our study wanted to get beyond the hype of big data to discover the attitudes of those who are responsible for storing and managing it,” said Patrick Keddy, Senior Vice President, Western Europe, Iron Mountain.

“The good news is that most respondents are very positive about the potential of big data. The bad news is that many are falling at the first hurdle and simply don’t know where to start when it comes to managing the sheer volume and velocity of data so that they can realise its value.

“The findings underline a need for companies to implement a structured approach to controlling the flow of big data. Although this represents a new and evolving challenge for businesses, the classic information management principles of segmentation and prioritisation still apply.”

Iron Mountain has released a 12-point action plan to help businesses better manage big data, providing advice on how to reduce the enormity of the task, how to structure information to make it more manageable, and how to reap the business benefits that big data can provide.