Reinvent your business with Big Data insights

It has been 15 years since the term “big data” became mainstream and about six years since it went viral. Still, C-suite executives struggle with incorporating data insights into their brand.

A survey by the Computing Technology Industry Association indicates only about half of U.S. busi¬nesses say they have a big data plan in place. Of those, many believe they could do a better job harnessing it. The good news is that reinventing your business with data insights isn’t as hard as it seems.

Think like a computer
Computers process large amounts of data in bite-sized segments called bits. And to a large degree, you must do the same — that is, break down your data-gathering mission into bite-sized pieces. Start by asking yourself: “What is our business problem? What do I want/need to focus on? What is our value proposition?”

Once you have those answers, ensure your business is integrating the right data elements and verify the data is trustworthy. Make sure you answer these three questions as well:

• Are you accumulating data fast enough to give real-time feedback? With high Internet speeds allowing for a faster flow of data to company stakeholders, understanding your business and how its feedback loop works — how your system assesses real-time information and how fast your company’s top officers need access to that infor¬mation — is critical. Amazon is a great example as it uses click-stream data and historical purchase history to tailor product search results for shoppers, thus increasing the probability of a sale as well as repeat purchases.

• Are you acquiring enough data in great enough volume to create that granular picture? In the world of big data, success isn’t necessarily measured by the amount of data you have. How you are ana¬lyzing data and recognizing relationships, patterns and trends should influence your data gathering. While you need to take advantage of specialized software tools that can perform predictive ana¬lytics: data mining, text mining, forecasting and optimization, what your business really needs is a game plan for how it looks at the data and what outcomes it hopes to extract. From there, your company can be laser-focused on the data sets that will produce ROI-generating outcomes.

• Are your data sources diverse enough to ensure accuracy? Data brings challenges since it comes from disparate sources, such as a customer rela¬tionship management system, company website, call center recordings or mobile marketing results. Plus, data no longer falls neatly into rows and col¬umns; most data is qualitative, not quantitative. While business intelligence software can sort and analyze structured and unstructured data sets, companies first must ensure the overall data archi¬tecture is reliable.

Still not convinced?
Just think about how Netflix, almost single¬handedly, reinvented the home video rental market. Big data was key to the Netflix success story. For instance, when the company reached an agreement with the creators of the television series “Arrested Development” to air an exclusive season during 2013, much of the decision-making process was based on viewing preferences of subscribers as well as surveys conducted with nonsubscribers. The result? Netflix added 630,000 new subscribers in the same fiscal quarter the show debuted.


In today’s hypercompetitive business world, it is easy to forget big data had a very bite-sized beginning.

Introduce big data analytics into your business in a one-piece-at-a-time fashion and there is no telling what new insights you will uncover. Doing so will drive revenue, engage customers and attract new ones — all thanks to the insights contained in billions of zeroes and ones.

(The article is authored by Asha Saxena, CEO of ACULYST and President of Future Technologies Inc. YPO member since 2005)


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