Monday, October 21, 2013

Three Essential Steps for Business Success with Big Data

No doubt about it! Big Data is the Gangnam Style currently in the business. It is not a fad, but a long-term differentiator for companies as analyzing big data delivers big payoffs by creating new business capabilities and helping conduct current processes cheaper, faster and more effectively. Although there are a growing number of companies are riding the trends of using data to drive decisions, “as the stash of data grows, companies are using a smaller percentage of it (Figure 1).” Many companies still hesitate to tap into the big data or cannot approach it efficiently. As a graduate student in Northwestern Medill IMC program, I have found two interesting articles telling how CMO and COO can leverage the capacity of big data to gain innovative insight and make quicker decision.

                                                        Source: Forbes

In the first article “How to Use Big Data to Make Faster and Better Busines Decision”, Thor Olavsrud, comes up with several strategies about how can companies use big data successfully is as much art as it is science”. In his understanding, the KEY is to create a data ecosystem that integrates big data with traditional business analytics as well as tearing don boundaries between IT and business units. According to a recently released study by Big Data consulting firm NewVantage Partners: “Historically, there has been much talk about the difference between traditional analytics and Big Data, and organizational responsibility for each within an enterprise. The survey, however, shows the two are becoming closely intertwined and must work together to deliver the promised results of Big Data. Further, breaking down organizational boundaries and creating close integration between IT organizations and the business units is a critical step for any organization hoping to build a winning strategy for Big Data."

The second article “What Marketers Should Know About Big Data – and How to Put it to Use”, written by Amanda Maksymiw, reveals three simplest strategies for those marketers who are still hesitant about big data to get started. She demonstrates that it is important to “realize the marketing potential in big data” and determine the problem need to be solved before start. 

From my analysis of these two articles, these are the three action items I recommend you to implement.

Determine Which Question You Want to Answer
Don’t get overwhelmed by the amount of data available about your customers and prospects. Lots of companies are drowned in tons of data and don't know how to start. Before starting extracting value from big data, the right first step SHOULD be to defining the question you want to answer. 

Identify the data and tools required
A discussion about the kinds of data information and capabilities required should not be left out. This step can help not only drive down cost, but also “offer the potential of decreasing query times exponentially”. Companies SHOULD specify the datasets and tools that will be used in order to save inputs.

Create a Big Data Ecosystem
Whether it comes from big data or traditional analytics, what matters is to generate valuable insights.  Companies SHOULD create a big data ecosystem that establishes a symbiotic relationship between big data and traditional data analytics. An integrated data ecosystem will help drive accurate and speedy answers more efficiently. 

Sun is a graduate student of Integrated Marketing Communications in Northwestern University, focusing on market research and analytics. She can be reached via @Monki_Sun

1)    Thor Olavsrud, “How to Use Big Data to Make Faster and Better Business Decision”January 11, 2013.
2)    Amanda Maksymiw, “What Marketers Should Know About Big Data – and How to Put it to Use”, July 08, 2013.

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