June 22, 2015

How Important is Big Data Really?

Much is discussed in business intelligence circles about the importance of being able to collect and analyze big data. However, less is spoken of how important it truly is in maintaining a successful business. With thousands being invested in big data tools from businesses of all sizes, it’s pertinent to understand how effective that investment is and where it can be improved.

In this post, we’ll dig into the nuts and bolts of how and why big data investments fall flat for some companies, but help others excel.

Big dataKnow Your Data before You invest

What many business fail to remember is that simply purchasing a high-powered, multi-layered platform doesn’t necessarily mean that your work is now done. These tools are simply to enhance your current strategies and to maximize your data collection and analysis efforts. If you find that you’ve purchased a new data warehouse or software, but have yet to show progress since implementation, then it’s likely that you’ve wasted your hard earned dollars.

Before you bring on new technology into your company, you should be able to make use of the data you currently have. Without the knowledge of managing, analyzing and enhancing your data, the addition of a more complicated BI tool will only complicate things. And this is where many businesses fail. These tools are great additions if you already know what you’re doing, but it won’t do all the work for you.

In the same way children must learn how to divide regularly before they master long division, the same goes for your big data. In short, big data is truly helpful once you’re able to master how to manage all of your scattered information on a basic level first.

The Power of Evidence-Based Decision Making

Data analysisZooming into the concept of business intelligence, you’ll find that at the core of successful data management is the ability to identify the most important statistics and apply it to your company’s day-to-day decisions.

It’s these daily decisions that should be improved upon when you have a sound BI strategy. And evidence-based decision making isn’t a software you can buy that works on its own — it requires capturing the right data and knowing when and were to use it.

To help your company make the switch to this philosophy, this shift in mindset requires an overhaul in how your processes are defined, what data you’ll collect and a change to the way your business runs. Most importantly, those in your company who are the decision makers should have the critical performance data in their hands every day to allow them to maximize your business output.

Companies who exercise this method of utilizing their business intelligence typically employ these four strategies:

– Use one main source for performance information
– Allow decision makers to access real-time data
– Define & regularly optimize rules for data collection
– Tutor decision makers on how to use data tools

In summary, big data can be important if it’s used the right way. Don’t allow the chatter around the importance of big data influence your decision to invest in new tools if you’re not currently using healthy methods of data collection and analysis. Rather than trying to make use of big data right off the bat, start small. Make use out of the little data you have to help your key employees make healthier decisions on a daily basis.

Of course, enlisting the help of a data analyst may be a better first step before you make the choice of investing thousands in a technology that you may not know how to use to its full potential just yet.