'Big Data': The Two Words You Need to Know for 2012 Credit: Balefire9 for Dreamstime.com

Marketers are increasingly turning to “Big Data” to gain insight into consumer interests and preferences in an effort to improve their customer acquisition and retention programs. Big Data incorporates multiple data sets, including customer data, competitive data, online data and offline data.

But many companies say the sheer volume of the available data is too overwhelming for them to make use of it, a new survey shows.

Nearly half (44 percent) of thought leaders surveyed by Connotate, a web data monitoring and collection company, said the top challenge posed by Big Data was the sheer volume of internal and Web informationavailable, and about as many (45 percent) cited the time and manpower required to collect and analyze it.

The common perception is that the “Big” in Big Data is the only thing preventing enterprises from reaping benefits from this wealth of information, but the findings in Connotate’s report indicate that enterprises believe human capital is equally important.

"Our research shows that Big Data goes beyond technology and is an HR challenge for corporate America," said Connotate CEO Tom Meyer. "While it is important that organizations devote resources to Big Data, employees must be freed from the information fire hose so they can concentrate only on the information that is relevant to their tasks."

The midmarket (businesses with 100 to 10,000 employees) is surprisingly lackluster in its use of Web data within the organization, the survey found, lagging even behind the SMB market (fewer than 100 employees) in brand monitoring and price monitoring.

 Small and midsize businesses are not without their own flaws. Only 27 percent of respondents within that segment indicated they monitor the government sources of data (laws, regulations, etc.). Considering that most legislation affects SMB owners first and any compliance slip-up can result in sizable fines, this is a major blind spot they need to address, the Connotate report said.

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.