The notion of “big data” has recently hit the mainstream, but companies like Amazon, eBay, Google and Target have been using business analytics successfully for years to exploit the value locked in large volumes of data.
Now, companies of every shape and size are grappling to manage exploding amounts of data gathered from transactional systems, mobile devices, the Internet and social networks. They can no longer rely on traditional forms of decision making – often gut feeling and intuition – to compete in the world of big data. Instead, they must rely on business analytics and customer relationship management (CRM) analytics to avoid getting swept away by the tsunami of big data.
Indeed, Christopher Frank, a contributor to Forbes, notes that companies should be focusing less on big data and more on essential data. One way companies can do this is by allowing employees to easily ask a powerful question: “I Wish I Knew . . . ?” (IWIK).
“The question is a catalyst for a brainstorming discussion to identify wants and needs with respect to big data,” Frank says. “IWIK will uncover the strategic, essential questions that can be answered through big data. It will define the indispensable information you need to move forward.”
Business analytics can allow your company to successfully exploit the potential of big data and uncover the answers to essential business questions. For example:
- Breaking the silos. Mountains of data are often shrouded from decision makers in departmental silos like engineering, manufacturing and sales. According to a recent McKinsey & Co. study, information hoarding within business units creates a fragmented view of customers and potential new markets. In the world of big data, simply creating bigger silos is not an option to compete effectively; instead, data-driven decisions must be fueled by comprehensive views of critical data. A retailer that can analyze big data streaming in from customers using social media, combined with data in a CRM system – such as the success of past marketing campaigns – can adjust its sales strategy much more quickly than trying to adapt to market demand based on a single silo of information.
- All users can be analysts. As users create the IWIK questions, they must be able to quickly and easily interrogate data and find answers that they can understand without waiting for the IT department to support them. Picture a visual analytics interface that allows anyone from the CEO to a front-line call center employee to query large data sets as fast and as agilely as they can conceive of the questions big data may answer. “Visibility into the unknown” becomes a reality.
- Speed wins. In the world of big data, companies analyzing stale data in a warehouse are missing the opportunity to take into account the treasure trove of information that can be gleaned from data in motion. A recent Aberdeen Group study of 63 companies with an average amount of active business data of two petabytes finds that the top performing companies have an 83% success rate for delivering information quickly enough to meet user demand. According to the same study, 35% of all active business data in these companies was immediately available for queries and analysis.