Big Data is one of the hottest topics in business right now and continues to be at the forefront of organizations’ strategy, particularly as it has the potential to transform IT departments into empowered strategic partners within business. To better understand this trend, we asked customers at EMC Forums this year to tell us about their Big Data strategies.We asked over 10,500 IT professionals, technical architects, data scientists and storage/infrastructure managers from more than 50 countries to share where they currently are in their Big Data implementation and where they plan to be, as well as how IT innovation helps them compete locally and globally.Some of the global results took me truly by surprise. Nearly one-third of the companies report they do not have any current plans to implement Big Data technology. This is the equivalent of leaving volumes of consumer insight unexplored, which could mean lost sales opportunities or inefficient operational processes – both of which hinder business growth and agility.Interestingly, this data point is balanced by 79% reporting that they believe using Big Data will lead to better decision-making. Encouraging to be sure! In fact, 36% said they have already achieved a competitive advantage as a result of using Big Data.Moreover, 76% of these IT decision-makers report that their business believes technology investment is a strategic way to achieve its goals. Further indication that with validation, IT investments are possible in the near future.So the majority recognizes the value of Big Data and is in companies that value investing in IT transformation. I choose to view this optimistically and expect 2014 to be an important year for adopting Big Data in new ways.Our EMC Forum series creates a network of peers learning together and will continue in 2014. Check out the EMC Forum website for more information and click on specific countries to see survey results for IT leaders near you.