The last few years has seen the term ‘big data’ become somewhat of a buzzword in boardrooms across the UK and rest of the world. The corporate world has become obsessed with analysing big data and this on its own is no bad thing. However, when companies don’t get the right people to do the analysis and thus don’t using the data properly or actually act on the insights gleaned, big data can be absolutely worthless.
It seems like many companies are just using big data as an excuse to keep piling money into their databases and for others, for keeping their analyst jobs secure. But what is the point of piling endless amounts of money into building up databases to collect information on products sales, competitors’ pricing and your customers if you can’t turn this data investment into profit growth?
For instance, the big American retail company Walmart has more than likely spent millions of dollars each year building up a huge amount of meta data. However, despite this, their revenue has not seen a huge growth. If they were utilising their big data learnings properly, they should have been able to grow their revenue.
When you consider that all large corporations and governments have access to a huge variety of data from an incredible number of sources, it is shocking that many corporations are seeing their revenues decline and that even our governments are still unable to predict or stop terrorist attacks.
Why then, are we all so enamoured with big data when it seems we are still so limited with what we can do with the information gleaned from it?
The truth is, unless you have the right people in place to do the analysis of the data and then translate the information and insights into real-time benefits that will improve the company and increase revenue, big data is worthless.
Too many people are claiming that they are big data experts, or ‘miners’ when in fact they really have fairly limited understanding about how the information gained from big data analysis can be made into something profitable.
Too much data is being collected and then just left without proper analysis which means that companies are wasting their money. Big data is only worth its weight in gold when it is analysed in real time. Once the data is old, it’s worthless.
Companies need to be focused on gathering relevant data as opposed to spending money gathering everything and anything they can. Big data is only beneficial if it is relevant and you need to have the proper analysts in place to ensure you only gather what is relevant and therefore guarantee it is going to be of most use to your company.
In this ways, less is more. Gather less data, but make sure it is relevant data. Your data analysts can then translate this relevant insight and ensure you improve your products, customer service, and assure that your pricing strategy is competitive.
So, if you are spending countless amounts on data collection it is time to relate these efforts to whether your sales are growing and especially whether you are seeing revenue growth. If you are not seeing an increase in either, you need to stop pouring money into big data and take a step back as your big data strategy is not working. If you are seeing growth, then congratulations, you are more than likely using your big data analysis correctly. But do remember to be as flexible and adaptable in your big data strategy as possible. The big data world is transient and you need to be able to adjust your strategy to fit your business case as and when required.