Big Data – Why you should consider it today.

As you might heard or realized yourself, Big Data became a hot subject for the last few years. But wait a minute. Companies were already focusing on data far more earlier, therefore, Big Data should not be something new. Yes that is true. It is not new, but, seems like approach and understanding changed.

I love data. It is not only because I’m good or bad with numbers, but, because data is 3rd eye for a company. It can reveal intelligence which can earn you millions. Having some previous roles in career directly related to Data Intelligence, it became my purest responsibility to share with you some insights on latest situation for Big Data subject. Also, hopefully if you agree with trend and propositions expressed in this article, you might find it quite valuable to invest your company’s time and resources to get Big Data enabled for you.

Lets continue with key items which will help us with Big Data Concept :

  • Why you need Data?

In several of the surveys few years back among mid-big size companies, more than 60% agreed that Big Data is a competitive advantage. 90% of Fortune 500 companies have Big Data initiative in their operation, whereas, more than 3/4 of large company executives agrees to increase their company’s use of analytics. You need it to get ahead of your competition, harvest the business opportunities earlier and faster. If you do not collect and consider operational data but still have profitable business then it means that, either you are simply “Lucky” or intensity of rivalry still very low at your industry. When a company makes big and critical business decisions, support from data based intelligence makes it more sound and with less chances to fail. I do call it as “doing your homework”, when it comes to supporting decisions with data analysis. It is proven that “homework” does not guarantee the success but it reduces failure cases gradually.

  • What is the difference between Data and Big data ?

It was my first reaction when I heard about Big data. Was it something different ? It came out that even do the borders between the Data and Big data are not obvious but the new term is widely used to define a high variety of detailed information collected from the different sources and coming with increasing velocities. In means of variety you can consider having people to people, people to machine and machine to machine communication data as high level distribution. It is evident that once people understood the action-ability over this data they started to really worry about that. In earlier times, data was existing piece by piece in organizations and therefore it was not fully actionable. Now, days have changed.

So, Big Data is the same Data but with high volumes, variety and action-ability which results people thinking quite seriously about that. Thats why it is not only big in terms of volume but also BIG in terms of changing the company life.

  • Why companies pay to employ Data Analysts in staff ?

Google Chief economist Hal Varian says that “I keep saying the sexy job in the next ten years will be statisticians. People think I’m joking, but who would’ve guessed that computer engineers would’ve been the sexy job of the 1990s?”. I do fully agree with him. He said it in 2009, 5 years back. So If you also agree with him, then in next 5 years we will clearly see the surge in demand for those guys.

I always support the belief that, 70% of company’s success comes from people it has. The better quality they are and more effectively they can work in a team, the more outstanding results can be expected from the company. The same applicable when dealing with Big Data. There are a lot opportunities in Big Data and without people who can turn it to the actionable intelligence, it will be useless big chunk of storage which is expensive to collect and store. Thats the reason why big corporations hold extensive department dealing only with that jevelry. Please look at your organization and think about at which level you can turn data into the actionable intelligence.

  • What are the stages to become Big Data adopted company ?

There are different usage levels for data within operations. If you look at Amazon, Google or Facebook their life is Data. They earn billions of dollars just by managing data right and turning it into their advantages. On the other hand you can have Companies which do not collect or work with data. As an example you can think about the “Pen and paper operated grocery stores”. Overall there are 4 different stages for a company to become Big Data oriented. They are Educate, Explore, Engage, Execute. According to one of the surveys, around 70% of UK and US companies still at the Educate and Explore stage whereas 5% are at Execute level.

  • A bit more about stages of Big Data adaptation…

Before enabling Big Data in your company you have to make sure management have deep understanding and commitment on this implementation. We have seen a lot of failures just because there was not enough buy-ins on the management level. This is Educate level for a company. It is the most critical one which will clear out the destiny of Big Data in company.

The next stage is Explore. This is where you are thinking about which data to collect, how to manage and make initial descriptive reports on them. This stage is very interesting one, since company which reaches this level first time ever gets surprisingly big amount of insights on their business. It is really fascinating experience for a company first time exploring their operational data.

Engage stage is where company really understands value of the data and working over to build statistic models for different value adding directions such as, prediction, forecasting, optimizing and etc. Reaching to this level already embeds a high level understanding and commitment from the company. This stage heavily requires the statistics skills concentration in the company.

The last and the most earning stage is Execute stage where a company implement activities based on intelligence gathered from Big Data Analysis. This is the stage where big Internet giants like Google, Facebook, Amazon and others are positioned. Their day starts with analyzing data and ends with implementing changes to increase profitability.

  • What Big Data brings with it ?

Once you have settled Data enabled environment in your company your daily life will change. It will become fast and more actionable in reaction to the intelligence you will be getting from your data. Lets go through the list of things over which you will feel the change:

  1. Every activity of the company logged and included into the databases.
  2. It is easy to see the relationship between different sort of activities.
  3. Simple decisions will make you possible to earn more with the same.
  4. Getting ahead of competition with cheaper costs and higher revenues.
  5. Seeing opportunities on customer possible needs by understanding the customer behavior.
  6. Customer retention is easier than before since each micro segment has its own care format.
  7. Fraud cases are seen immediately and can be prevented real time.
  8. And far more other changes we all might find hard to imagine…
  • What if you do not consider it?

Of course this is also possible way to follow. A company can ignore the Big Data era and continue to operate with its existing decision making style. The risk on the way is high though, not because that something is done wrong but the need to compete with other players in the market which will be equipped with the data intelligence. It will look like the same as in 13-14th centuries some of the armies already adopted canons but others did not. They guys without canons faced uneven level of power in the wars and mostly failed against the others.

It is like a train and not only reaching the train will help you but also making most of the time spend there makes difference. I wish everyone takes its time to think about Big Data seriously. This can change destiny of your company as well as future of yours.

If you start thinking about Big Data seriously, it will be my pleasure to discuss with you the opportunities and help you with planning. Will be quite happy to see how companies are getting to the future first.

All the best and good luck !

Regards,

Imran Baghirov.