It sounds intimidating.
As if data is threatening to ambush and overwhelm you.
There are dangers involved. But only if sitting on a huge pile of data is giving you an illusion of control. Or you have no intention of making use of it.
Can you afford to ignore big data?
Inaction is a typical response to big data. Doing nothing usually comes down to two assumptions. It’s easy to look enviously at big companies and think, well, they have all the resources; they can afford it – can’t they? Or simply that the clue is in the name and that big data and big companies go hand in hand.
Ultimately, your biggest challenge to action is cost. And this perceived lack of cost capability is probably linked to feelings that you also lack the overall knowledge and experience to carry out a big data project. In turn, this is because you cannot afford the necessary expertise; with data scientists an expensive addition to any team.
The tools trying to put data in its place
Despite this, you have probably tried using, or are considering existing solutions to integrate your data into one place. The challenges come thick and fast. Not least, ensuring a seamless combination of: data capture, search, analysis, sharing, and visualisation. Each tool promises that elusive and highly prized single version of the truth. But do they really provide the answer?
Intelligent for your business?
Business Intelligence (BI) tools take a lot of your money and time. You get to see your data but without any indication of what really matters. The insights remain locked in and will probably leave you interrogating your bottom line rather than the data. To operate effectively BI has to sit on top of some form of big data tool.
Size isn’t everything. There’s no reason to feel excluded from the possibility of benefitting from big data if your company is smaller in comparison to the major players.
Big data tools – not so big after all
Big Data tools are very complex, specialised and expensive. But they do nothing to visualise your data. And, once again, there’s no help to define the areas that need attention in your business. Oh, and of course they’re ineffective without BI on top.
The analytical choice
Which brings us to Analytic tools. These are a way to understand what your data actually means but not a means of visualisation. The problem is that this understanding is defined by data scientists who are a finite resource (although infinitely expensive) and who need deep complex mathematical knowledge to do what they do. This is reflected in what they produce; which will probably leave you feeling as if you also need deep complex mathematical knowledge to interpret any insight.
How to avoid a data complex
These solutions are complex, expensive and often constitute a one-off project cost. Unsurprisingly companies go so far and find themselves giving up: then wrap up in their data comfort blanket – otherwise known as Excel – with all the risks of human error that involves.
Avoiding the temptations of Excel, it’s time to clearly focus on what you really want.
What are you trying to bring together in one place?
Large volumes of high frequency data in multiple streams of both structured numbers – such as sales data – and your less clearly defined, unstructured data that is made up of fluid, freeform text. Which as we can see, is difficult to combine.
What would be your ideal in how to achieve this?
Visualised clearly through a single pane of glass – using big data technology and techniques – to deliver you with one big data set. However, having all of your business-critical data available through one pane of glass requires powerful visualisations.
How would you like this data to be?
Accessible for all levels of your company to understand – preferably without need for data scientists to interpret. Scalable across different business sizes. And all without breaking your budget.
Size should not be an issue
Size isn’t everything. There’s no reason to feel excluded from the possibility of benefitting from big data if your company is smaller in comparison to the major players. You don’t need to have big company resources. Nor should budget over concern you – a big data-based solution should not necessarily be associated with big investment.
In any case, does this attitude make any sense when the margins for error are so much smaller in your business?
Big data is for everyone. Whether you have 20-30 locations or 3000 – it is equally important. Even as a small company you can still benefit from a big data project, but you’ll need a platform that offers all the essential resources at a competitive cost.
Sitting on top of your world
Avoid being intimidated. It’s not scary to consolidate your data. After all, it’s just data you already have that needs pulling out of the shadows. It’s time to overcome data isolation and silos in your company so you can view one clear picture of your business.
A key function of any platform should be to prevent you wasting your time from investigating blind alleys of data that are devoid of insight. Your preferred performance dashboard should be able to quickly identify what’s working well – and where your focus and attention needs to be.