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3 compelling business reasons for harnessing and mastering big data

iStock_000020541258XSmall.jpgOver the past few weeks I’ve published a blog series on “3 compelling business reasons for going mobile” and “3 compelling business reasons for moving to the cloud”.


When I consider a business case for investment, I am looking to see if the proposal clearly demonstrates how it will meet one or more of the “3 compelling business reasons” to invest.


As a reminder, the 3 reasons we need to consider are:

1.         To increase or defend revenue;
2.         To reduce our operating costs;
3.         To improve our capabilities.


Unlike “mobility” and “cloud”, which you may or may not consider being relevant to your enterprise, “big data” IS relevant and IS getting bigger by the second.


I started cleaning my attic a few weeks ago and was amazed at what I found. Amongst the 30 year old technical manuals and even older school reports, I re-discovered a couple of documents that I thought I had lost, which may save me some money on my building renovation project. Unfortunately, I didn’t find any priceless antiques, but I did in a find a couple of un-cashed cheques (but not enough to retire on...).


The same applies to ‘big data’. We have a lot of it and it is growing. We don’t know what’s there, whether it is still relevant or not, what to keep and what to delete, etc. We don’t know if there is any hidden ‘nuggets of value’ we are missing....we just don’t know.


Chatting with my Information Management and Analytics colleagues, we were able to summarise some examples of ways you can harness and manage ‘big data’ to meet the 3 compelling business reasons.


To increase or defend our revenues – Given revenue comes from customers, we should consider how we can use our ‘big data’ to better understand them and their behaviours.  Traditionally, marketing and sales would use customer segmentation through pre-defined demographics, together with some statistical sampling and maybe some third party vendor content.


But big data solutions are better tuned for handling volume, variety and complexity of data. These solutions can process raw data faster and include data content that was previously inaccessible (such as social media that can add sentiment analysis, video feed content that can capture store aisle foot traffic analysis; audio feed content from help desk calls and market basket analysis based on actual data rather than a small sampling). The point is that with the right tools you can target your products and services based upon your customers’ actual, rather than estimated behaviour patterns. In my business case, I would be looking to see how my marketing and sales force leaders were planning to use these new insights to drive more relevant marketing and sales campaigns and the associated revenue streams.


To reduce our operating cost –Harnessing ‘big data’ can be used to reduce cost, such as energy companies using Smart metering to increase their understanding of customers and power usages through data collection. It also allows them to reduce costs by better managing power consumption, and therefore the need to invest in over capacity generation. I would also be looking to use the information patterns obtained from ‘big data’ tools to search for risk mitigation opportunities. Use in the insurance industry is an obvious one, but patterns could also help in public health scenarios, such as managing infectious outbreaks and the economic impact of getting it under control quickly. Again, I am looking at the business case to explain how, who and when people are going to use this information and to what end.


To improve our capabilities – The ability of ‘big data’ to convert, text, sound and video content into something meaningful is truly astounding. Science fiction is moving rapidly towards science fact in this area. A colleague was telling me that patterns from difference sensors can be applied to parts manufacturing where real-time monitoring analysis can trigger maintenance events before a sub-quality part is manufactured. For my business case, I want to see exactly how the technology will be applied and how the expected performance improvement will be measured.


Well, back to the attic for me, I still have a lot more stuff to clear….but I would be interested in any other examples you can think of and how they address the 3 compelling business reasons.


If you want to learn more about harnessing and mastering big data, join us on Sept 12 for the next webinar with The Data Warehousing Institute where we will explore managing human information in a big data world. Register today!


Contact Gary on: Twitter and LinkedIn

Nadhan | ‎08-22-2012 06:59 PM

Gary, Like your thread on 3 compelling business reasons.  It provides great context to key architectural and technological paradigms.  Please keep them coming. 


When it comes to #bigdata, it is all about "Informationalizing" it.  In this post on Informationalizing your data, I discuss the adoption of "Informationalization" introduced by Harvard Business Review blogger, Thomas C. Redman during Applications Transformation.


Connect with Nadhan on: Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin

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