23 Dec Big Data: Like any weapon its effectiveness depends on where you aim it
There’s really no easy way to say it. If you do not embrace big data and your competitors do your competitive position will dramatically alter for the worse and you’ll face extinction. Fortunately Big Data is not an iffy technology whose value is questioned after implementation.
A recent survey, spanning seven industries and companies with headquarters in 19 countries, found that 92 percent of respondents are satisfied with the business outcomes of their projects, while 94 percent believe their Big Data implementation meets their companies’ needs.
“While a significant number of organizations may still be standing on the sidelines, Big Data users who start and complete projects see practical results and significant value,” the survey organizer said. “Organizations perceive Big Data to be critical for a wide spectrum of strategic corporate goals, from new revenue generation and new market development to enhancing the customer experience and improving enterprise-wide performance.”
The bigger the company the bigger the benefit, making it ideal for banks, utilities and telecoms in emerging markets that generate Terabytes of data. Because Big Data offers actionable insights, it is one of the most powerful technologies enabling decision making in business history. InfoTech has worked on several large Big Data projects. Here are some practical tips from our experience:
- Focus and aim well: Don’t try for a master project that incorporates all sources of data. Instead revisit your strategic plan. Validate its key points by talking to revenue generating stakeholders. What you want to do is zero in on the constraints of growth to your business in the next 3 to 5 years. Pick up a small project against one or more of those constraints and plug it in with data from relevant sources. You want actionable insights with immediate impact to business that validates investments in big data. This is how you get there. In our experience typical Big Data projects focus on improving the customer experience and/ or launching new products and services.
- Use visual discovery tools: You will get a lot more traction from the CXO level stakeholders that way. A 2013 report by Aberdeen Group concluded, “…at organizations that use visual discovery tools, 48 percent of BI users are able to find the information they need without the help of IT staff.” Without visual discovery, the rate drops to a mere 23 percent. Having been involved with complex projects we suspect that at CXO level the rate drop is even more significant. Human beings simply take to visualizations more. We’re hardwired that way. Using visual data tools will allow for a far more powerful interactive and ultimately successful experience with Big Data.
- Skills in this field are extremely scarce: You will need to invest externally and internally for Big Data. For us Big Data is a classic “adopt or die” moment for business so we urge treating it as an investment and not a cost to get your Big Data initiatives off the ground. Use an external consultant or company to help with scoping, structuring and settling on the tools for your Big Data project. Almost two thirds of Big Data job openings in the United States stay unfulfilled so internally you’ll have to pay big to get the data scientists and analysts needed to run your Big Data initiatives in an informed and successful manner. We strongly believe Chief Data Officer is the next entry into the executive suite so these investments will allow you to get a head start to an inevitable business and technology re-positioning of roles.
Big Data is here to stay. Its impact is immediate and lasting and first movers advantage as a leader will allow you to solidify your position in the market and as a challenger will give you the agility to improve your market position. Big Data needs to be at the center of the discussion on how technology enables business in your organization.
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