Guest View: Big Data: Enabling serious competitive advantage

Tim Moylan, President, Asia-Pacific, Infor

How are companies using this information? Certainly, the possibility of turning real consumer and trend information into a competitive advantage is viable, and enticing. The question is, whether Big Data holds the key to achieving that goal for every company, organisation or marketing department is another thing. For some, the answer will be a resounding yes. For others, however, Big Data could end up being a costly and unnecessary distraction. Therefore, for many companies it is advisable to avoid jumping on the "Big Data" bandwagon and developing plans and dedicated budgets for Big Data analytics without first understanding what information their organization needs and developing Big Data strategies that are efficient and structured.

Here are four interesting food analogy guidelines to help you address the Big Data question:

 

  • Set the table. The fundamental rule in any data project (big or small) is to clearly determine your end goal. Sometimes, it's easy to get pulled into an initiative with objectives that are likely to change as you go along. As a start off, it is always helpful to establish a visual picture or framework of what you're trying to accomplish that organizes the business around an end game and breaks down the problem into consumable, achievable initiatives. By defining upfront what you need helps determine if Big Data is the answer and puts parameters around what you undertake.
  • Eat what we already have in the pantry. If your company has valuable data ready and ready to be utilised with the help of business intelligence and analytical tools, be sure to determine what data you have and whether you can achieve your goals with existing tools before assuming that an expensive initiative around Big Data is required. Incremental capabilities can also be incorporated in a non-disruptive way, giving you a big bang for your buck by providing better, more consistent visibility to data and making it more consumable. Analytic applications that surround existing information and transactional systems can effectively manage your data while also delivering a host of other benefits, like giving non-technical users simple dashboards that help them target specific problems and opportunities; delivering information directly and automatically to users so they head off problems and make better decisions; and making collaboration a standard part of your work processes.

 

  • Finish what's on your plate before you ask for more. All of the new data available today can be very tantalising. From Amazon to Facebook, we now have an array of choices that may be possible to crack new and previously untapped opportunities. However, the data you already have can be equally as valuable, if not more so, because of its relevance and quality. Sometimes, there may be adverse effects on adding more insight into the mix, as too many data sources can create "analysis paralysis," particularly for the average worker. Improving your ability to deliver a highly focused view of the business with targeted workflows is likely to serve you better than focusing time and energy on what can easily turn into a great deal of unnecessary distraction. The best approach is to make sure you fully understand and explore what's core to your business and data that already exists before taking on new, potentially complex and expensive data initiatives.

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