Big Data – Is your business getting enough out of it?

When it comes to deriving value from Big Data, businesses today notoriously struggle. Are you one of them? A 2013 report by Tata Consultancy Services revealed that a major challenge with managing Big Data is cultural, not technological. Let’s turn to the report itself for clarifying this point:


It is an organizational or cultural issue: getting business units in a company to share information across the organizational silos (divisions, business functions, etc.). This issue has plagued companies for decades, long before the phrase ’Big Data’ was coined. Business functions become protective of their data and often don’t have any incentive to share it internally. However, many business decisions can be dramatically improved when decision makers have access to the bigger picture: what’s happening with certain customers, problematic products, and service issues.


What is most important is that organizations get out of their own way and start developing clear strategies around how to gather, leverage, analyze, and glean insights from Big Data. The first obvious step is to take an inventory of your Big Data efforts. Be honest and ask if there’s a substantive effort to capture and use your in-house data. If not, then where do you fall short and where can you improve?


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To help assess your current Big Data initiative, we’ve included a set of guidelines that can serve as a reality check on your efforts.


Big Data IS for small business: Get over the myth that Big Data is only for enterprises. As one analyst has well stated, “Big data is a relative term. Every organization has a tipping point, and most organizations – regardless of size – will eventually reach a point where the volume, variety and velocity of their data will be something that they have to address.”


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Formulate your business problem: Define exactly what your business proposition is or what hypothesis you want to prove or disprove? Look across the organization at your KPIs and ask stakeholders to weigh in to address where to cut costs and improve revenue. For example, you may start with something as simple as increasing engagements on Facebook? In that case, you’ll want to see what kinds of posts are getting the most likes. How about posts containing images?


Identify your data: Figure out what types of data are required to answer your business question. Some basic things you’ll need to explore are the variety and types of data available to address your business question? You will also need to know if there’s enough data and enough history and granularity in the data to support your analysis. For example, if you want to know the best day and time of the week to kickoff your email marketing campaign, then you’ll need to look at your email open rates.


Kickoff your analysis: This may be as straightforward as using Google Analytics to get insights on where your web traffic is coming from, what pages visitors are looking at, on what devices, and what the general traffic patterns are looking like. If you’re doing email marketing with a tool like MailChimp, then start by reviewing your email open rate statistics. How about leveraging the growing numbers of predictive analytics tools on the market today. Whatever approach you take to analysis the best advice is to start small, gather some results, and scale up. There’s no need to boil the ocean to find what you’re looking for.


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Act on your findings: What action is your analysis driving at? If your data shows more email open rates on Wednesday, then try starting your next few email marketing campaigns on a Wednesday to see if your results match the initial findings. If you’re finding that a good number of visitors are using mobile devices to access your website, then take measures to ensure that your business is mobile friendly. Is your website responsive web enabled for different devices? Your initial actions may not lead to the results you expected, and that’s okay. Just keep trying and don’t give up! Also, be sure to get commitment up front from other business stakeholders to ensure that the final results are appropriately applied within the organization.


Be ready for the Internet of Things: IoT will radically change your Big Data strategy. Many companies are already jumping on the Internet of Things bandwagon and for good reasons. McKinsey Global Institute reports that the IoT business has the potential to deliver between $2.7 and $6.2 trillion of revenue by 2025.


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Experts tell us we’re only scratching the surface of where the Big Data market is going. The growth here is exponential since the amount of data in the world more than doubles every 3 years. This means that by 2015 the world will have 8 zettabytes of data, which is an 8 with 21 zeros after it of bytes. Therefore, it’s paramount that small businesses act fast to get onboard and start developing clear strategies around how to gather, leverage, analyze, and glean insights from Big Data. Don’t get left behind, start today and begin to turn your company data into a gold mine!



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