By 2018, half of business ethics violations will occur through improper use of big data analytics, according to a report from Gartner Inc.

"Although big data and advanced analytics projects risk many of the same pitfalls as traditional projects, in most cases, these risks are accentuated due to the volume and variety of data, or the sophistication of advanced analytics capabilities," Alexander Linden, research director at Gartner, said in a statement. "Most pitfalls will not result in an obvious technical or analytic failure. Rather they will result in a failure to deliver business value."

Failure to properly understand and mitigate the risks can have a number of unintended and highly impactful consequences, the study says. Those can include loss of reputation, limitations in business operations, losing out to competitors, inefficient or wasted use of resources, and legal sanctions.

Following key best practices will help analytics leaders improve the likelihood of success. These include: Linking analytics to business outcomes through benefits mapping; investing in advanced analytics with caution; balancing analytic insight with the ability of the organization to make use of the analysis; prioritizing incremental improvements over business transformation; and considering alternative approaches to reaching the same goal.

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