What’s the Big Deal About Big Data?
As long as I’ve been in business, there has always been something that gets everyone excited. All the talk spawns buzzwords that people toss around blindly in an effort to sound current, often without fully understanding what’s behind the concept.
When ideas reach this stage, they gain entry into what I call the management “flavor of the month” club. In my view, Big Data has joined the club, keeping company with past corporate fads ranging from TQM (Total Quality Management) in the 80s, Business Process Re-Engineering and Six Sigma in the 90s and Lean and Agile in more recent years.
That’s not to say that there isn’t a valid management principle behind each of these approaches. It just means that they have reached the level of awareness and collective attention that inspires people to believe that the next big thing is the ONE thing that will make all the difference.
When it comes to data, not much is truly new. We’ve always been surrounded by data, only the mechanism to capture it has changed. Data is still everywhere and now there are faster and more comprehensive ways to collect it at every turn. In fact, easy access to data has created an environment in which many businesses are drowning in data, oppressed by the weight of it all.
That’s the problem.
You don’t need more data, you need more information.
Big Data doesn’t necessarily lead to big insight. Like searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack, the larger the data set available to you, the harder it becomes to find real, actionable intelligence. This problem is exacerbated when all that data comes from disparate sources that may or may not play well together.
If you’ve taken the time to assess all the data collected by your organization, you may feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of it. The trick is to distill this down into information that means something relevant for your business.
How can what you know (the data) be converted into knowledge that impacts how you do business, creating stronger bonds with customers and a better bottom line?
The phrase “analysis paralysis” takes on new meaning in the era of Big Data. Building a massive team of analysts many seem impressive, but if they simply churn data without uncovering insights that influence your success, what’s the point?
Big Data alone won’t save you when your business is heading in the wrong direction. You still need a sound strategy and a firm foundation for growth.
- Does your value proposition resonate with customers?
- Is your brand promise fulfilled?
- Are employees fully engaged in delivering on your corporate values?
These are the questions leaders should be asking.
If you can harness Big Data to find the answers, great. Have at it. Use your data to look for ways to streamline operations, reduce costs, capture customer attention, advertise more effectively or predict successful hires.
Just be sure that in the end, you keep adding value for your customers and they will reward you.
That’s a simple equation anyone can solve.Image by ilker via sxc.hu.