What is the value of data in the age of big data?

Big data’s value is found in management and mining that meets business strategy

By Gavin Morrison, MD of Cubic Blue, a Knowledge Integration Dynamics company

Why are so many companies running big data programmes to get big data analytics? Because they see the value. Or they realise there’s potential even if they don’t know what it is yet. The 2014 IDG Enterprise Big Data research found:

  • Businesses expect a 76% increase in the total volume of managed data in 12 to 18 months
  • 49% of businesses back then were already implementing big data projects
  • Enterprises were ahead of SMBs

SAP conducted its own study in August 2014. It made some interesting findings:

  • 82% of respondents believe big data analytics will help them meet strategic objectives
  • 88% believe they must be able to share big data insights across lines of business

The way we work is changing and talent retention is going to become increasingly crucial. Data will help managers do that with HR analytics mining personnel data. For example, a healthcare company abroad found that it paid variable rates to people doing the same job. They were unhappy as they realised or suspected this was the case and turnover was consequently higher. So the company mined the data to figure out maximum and minimum pay thresholds. Employees were happier thereafter and reduced attrition. It also saved the company a bundle.

LinkedIn Visual Map
Data by itself is pointless – you need to make sense of the volumes you have. This visual LinkedIn map can be overwhelming if you don’t filter the data with purpose.

Image Credit: Luc Legay

Financial investment and management companies also use data to figure out where, why and how to invest client funds – shifting away from gut instinct to fact-based investment decisions to deliver more competitive returns. Statistical and computational improvements Successful data programmes improve statistical and computational methods so that companies can do more with data rather than just collect a lot of it. Certainly there’s a lot more available and once the Internet of Things (IoT) kicks up a gear or two that will grow. The data centre, data management, and data warehousing are all important disciplines that cannot be neglected. They drive robust analytics and BI, which is where the real value is generated. Those, not the infrastructure or the raw zettabytes of data, help businesses meet their strategic objectives such as:

  • Talent retention necessary to be competitive in future
  • Reduce personnel costs by understanding market- and geography-related pay
  • Successfully enter new markets by conducting better (more informed, fact-based) cost and market analyses

Those are just three examples off the top of my head and every business will be able to come up with hundreds of examples, particularly as the executives begin to drill into the capabilities of properly mining, analysing and massaging the data. The real value of data in the age of big data is being able to make sense of it – not collect big volumes of the stuff. Tie that back to what the business needs, what it’s trying to achieve, and you’ll have the same winning formula that so many companies are tripping over themselves to get.


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