Everyone talks about the importance of Big Data. Few dispute that organisations have more data than ever at their disposal. But many businesses, although they collect and store customer data, aren’t putting it to good use – or they don’t know how to.
More and more businesses are waking up to the importance of data as a strategic resource. The Economist Intelligence Unit reported that 60% of enterprise professionals feel that data is generating revenue within their organisations and 83% say it is making existing services and products more profitable. However companies still risk getting overwhelmed by massive amounts of data if they don’t know how to use it to benefit their business and staff.
So how can businesses leverage all that big data they’ve collected?
First and foremost, enterprises need to embrace big data as part of their business strategy. Extracting the true value from big data depends on key stakeholders understanding the clear business objectives behind it. Too often big data is considered to be a technology that the IT team manages. Really, it’s a way to enhance business processes, create more compelling customer engagements and uncover new commercial opportunities. Part of that challenge is evolving the business from a ‘knowing culture’ to a ‘learning culture’. It’s a mind-set change. Big data requires a more dynamic and learning-oriented approach compared to the expert-based mind-set that many businesses, particularly larger more established organisations, operate with.
Developing that mind-set requires the right expertise within the business. Having the right talent, to solve any problems and integrate big data into the business is critical to getting true value from the data and analytics journey. This involves the liaison of different key stakeholders at different stages of the journey - a data scientist to perform the complex analysis working, the business analyst doing proactive data discovery, the business manager implementing the end strategy and the IT developers building the system.
Talent alone though will not be enough to leverage the power of big data. Finding the set of tools that enable organisations to efficiently generate value through information is also vital. Depending on the company size, there are different tools out there to suit a range of needs. Larger businesses may still opt for high-end big data analytics tools, but more cost-effective alternatives deployed to interpret particular data sets can enable small and medium-size businesses to evaluate and launch focused initiatives driven by customer insight.
Whatever technology a business chooses, they should all provide a framework for data mining techniques to analyse information, discover patterns, react to trends, and then enhance the performance of business processes and operational applications. A key factor to success is ensuring that the technology and processes evolve based on the insight delivered by analysis of big data.
Big data should be empowering businesses to drive positive change through actionable insight. The same Economist Intelligence Unit report reported that 69% of enterprise professionals feel there is a business case for their companies to set up a dedicated internal data and analytics unit. What’s more, 48% feel that their organisations have, in the past, failed to take advantage of opportunities to capitalise on the data they’re collecting.
The transition period is ongoing. Business are collecting more data than ever before but now need to start acting on the insight it’s delivering. However, changing the business culture, harnessing the right technology and securing the best analytical talent will all go a long way to helping businesses take a more forward-looking, predictive view of where the business is going and gain competitive advantages over business rivals.