Many people think that big data is the next big thing in business, bigger perhaps than the internet, thanks to its capacity not only to provide data but also to give insights into business problems. With big data, businesses will be able to do things that they never dreamed of being able to do before, like being able to test all their decisions in real time and measure the results. What big data offers business, therefore, is an opportunity to perfect their operations, not based on a slow process of trial and error, but through key insights driven by evidence.
It should be pointed out that big data doesn’t just mean “more” data. Yes, more data is being generated, but the “big” in big data is designed to capture something else – the emergent properties of big data itself. More isn’t just more. More means being able to do entirely new things that simply weren’t possible before, no matter how accurate past data sets may have been. This time, more is different.
So what can businesses do to get the most out of opportunities in big data?
Start By Developing A Business Problem
Big data isn’t necessarily useful by itself. It needs a purpose or a question to answer. It’s a good idea, therefore, for businesses that use big data to develop questions and then identify projects that can be carried out on the basis of those questions. Right now there’s a lot of hype around the ability of big data to analyze unstructured speech and video content, meaning that businesses can get a handle on what is trending on social media. Having an idea about what is important and what is being discussed has obvious applications in marketing. Businesses can choose marketing campaigns that are timely and fit in with the general buzz out there on the internet on a topic. Or they can use information garnered from video, speech, and social media interactions to get an indication of how well received their marketing material is. The key here is to develop a business problem and then ask how data can help solve that business problem in real time.
Use Analytic Innovation
Big data is great when you get it right – but managing all your data can be tricky. Most businesses receive multiple data sources and numerous products with which they analyze their data streams. Having a good data management platform is slowly becoming a necessity, especially for businesses who want to use incoming data to make predictions about, say, how fast their production should be running at any given moment.
Companies are also moving into the realm of taking unstructured data and using machine learning to draw insights. In other words, they’re getting smart computers with sophisticated neural networks to come up with conclusions, based on artificial learning processes. This is helping to automate the management of big data further, making it more accessible.
Make The Results Of Your Analyses Operational
To really benefit from big data, businesses need to put their findings into practice. In many companies, data are collected but then the projects related to gathering those data are left to gather dust. Often the difficulty isn’t so much in collecting and analyzing the data as it is in finding productive uses for it that will actually improve the performance of the company.
There are also occasions where companies actually generate too many data to put all of it into practice. Selection of critical data from which the business can benefit is part of the art of working with big data. Most of the data you collect, despite what some experts might say, won’t actually be useful for your purposes, but could still end up taking up a lot of analyst time to process.
Make Data Widely Accessible
The companies that make the most of their big data are those that make resources available to the widest selection of employees as possible. Big data shouldn’t be something that is reserved to an analytics department because it is theoretically something that everybody can use and benefit from. Most modern big data platforms allow users to interact with data in the cloud, accessing the information that they need from anywhere with an internet connection. Having big data widely available means that people all over the business – from marketing, finance and sales – can use the company’s shared big data resources to improve their operations. As soon as somebody has a good idea, they can log onto the company’s big data repository, use the available tools, and gain helpful insights to improve the performance and efficiency of the business as a whole.