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April 4, 2012updated 22 Aug 2016 12:46pm

Big Data to have big impact on UK economy: study

Tech's hottest topic can add billions to UK economy and spur the creation of new jobs, research claims

By Steve Evans

Big Data could potentially add £216bn to the UK economy while adding 58,000 new jobs by 2017, according to a new study.

The report, called Data Equity: Unlocking the value of big data, was carried out by The Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) and business intelligence vendor SAS.

The key to this, according to the report, is using analytics to get previously "unseen patterns, sentiments and customer intelligence" out of the huge amounts of data being created by the internet, social media, cloud computing, mobile devices and more.

The report reckons co-called Big Data contributed £25.1bn to the UK economy in 2011, but as the use of analytics increases, that figure could rise to £40.7bn by 2017. Add to that the rise in big data analytics adoption, from 34% of companies using it in 2011 to 54% in 2017, and you have a cumulative benefit of £216bn between those years.

But how exactly will Big Data benefit the economy. Well, the report highlights three areas.

The first of these is Business Creation: The ability to be able to have better customer insight and strategy-making could spur the creation of many new SMBs, which the report believes will see 58,000 new jobs created over the next five years.

Second is Efficiency: Efficiency gains in customer insights and supply chain management could contribute a cumulative benefit of £149.5bn by 2017, the report states. Finally we have Innovation: Using Big Data analytics in R&D will drive the creation of new products and services. This could contribute as much as £24.1bn to the UK economy over the next five years.

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The financial services sector is the one that will see the greatest benefits of Big Data, with £16.3bn being generated in that space. The public sector, retail and manufacturing are also expected to benefit.

"Tapping into the dizzying amount of big data could be the stimulus the UK economy has been searching for," said Andy Cutler, director of high-performance analytics at SAS UK & Ireland.

"Big data analytics has the power unlike any other technology to generate growth, reduce debt, create jobs, develop new innovations and deliver greater operational efficiencies. Organisations large or small, government or commercial, must get to grips with the big data challenge and use analytics to identify tomorrow’s opportunities," he added.

Oliver Hogan, Cebr Head of Microeconomics, added: "As the volume of data created exponentially increases and big data’s value is unlocked to greater effect by technological advances we would expect data to start appearing on the balance sheets of companies that begin to realise its value in financial terms."

"Furthermore, the efficiency and innovation gains generated from data-driven technologies can play a vital role in ensuring the competitiveness of the UK’s goods and services on the global stage, and can thus generate a wider economic benefit beyond the value of this significant asset to its owner," he said.

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