Monday, February 17, 2014

Is Big Data too BIG for you?

It is safe to assume that you have heard of “big data” and the wealth of information it provides.  Perhaps, you are pushing the decision makers in your organization to take a leap of faith and invest heavily in the “big data” arena.  After all, the information you can derive from this effort will lead to far greater things, right?  Maybe not.

Is 'big data' too much?
It’s true, “big data” provides organizations with massive amounts of information that can show exactly what your customers want.  Your marketing campaigns will result in higher conversions.  You can mitigate risk in your large portfolios.  You will improve your collections efforts.  You can monitor your web traffic in real-time and forecast events that will impact your business.[1]  Once again, what’s not to like?

With all of the excitement that “big data” offers, one needs to step back and evaluate where their organization stands in the analytics world.  Conversations about “big data” within your organization may result in an ill-advised effort to skip the natural maturation process of analytics.  Taking too big of a bite into the analytics world before you are ready as an organization can produce crippling effects and leave you fighting for survival.

When is “big data” the “right” data?

Before exploring the possibility of using “big data” within your organization, you must be able to answer the following questions in the affirmative.
  • Does our organizational culture integrate analytics into the decision making and planning processes?
  • Are we fully utilizing our existing data, and optimizing our efforts based on that information?
  • Do we have the right people, processes, and internal infrastructure to collect greater volumes of data?
  • Do we have the right people and resources to optimize our efforts based on even greater amounts of data?
If you find that you are not yet ready for “big data,” you are always ready to evaluate your current position in analytics and ready to make the right adjustments to your organization.

What is the “right” data for me?

All businesses should be taking the necessary steps to prepare themselves for increased use and volume of data in the coming years.  Your goal should be to derive value from the data that you already have.  You must transform your company’s culture to one that integrates analytics into the decision making process.  Once this is done, focus on data that provides insight to help guide your company strategies.  The “right” data:
  • Identifies new opportunities for your organization.
  • Provides insight into your initiatives, indicating what was successful and what was not.
  • Reveals what progress you have made, allowing for course correction early on in your initiatives.
  • Allows optimization based on your findings.
Regardless of where your organization finds itself in analytics, deriving value from the data that you have will drive immense business value in the long term, and set up the foundation that you need to grow into using “big data” effectively.  It is important, however, to not step too far out into the unknown world, without first having this foundation built.  Making sure that you use the “right” data will provide the business value you desire, without drowning you in unnecessary information.[2]

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