A benefit of big data is the evidence it provides on when, where and what people do with your brand and products.
With this it becomes easier to have access to information which can inform business decisions. However, being a data-driven business is not just a matter of analysing data and deriving insight and knowledge. It starts at the point of data generation, collection, storage and management and all the processing, analysis, presentation and implementation. Ultimately, it requires the business to see data as a strategic asset.
To do that requires not only the right data and systems, but also the right people. Generating data is easy and collecting it is even easier, but generating the right data is sometimes a challenge. You need to identify what data is needed and engineer systems to create that data. Sometimes, that is not always as straightforward as getting legacy point-of-sale systems to create an additional field.
In the collection of data, it is tempting to just collect everything. But in doing that, an organisation may find that it doesn’t really know where to start and end up being overwhelmed. To start the journey towards being a data-driven business requires people who can understand how the data maps onto key performance indicators for the business, how that data can be generated and, ultimately, what to collect and focus on.
Once the data has been collected, it needs to be stored, managed, processed, analysed and presented back in a format which makes the knowledge derived from the data meaningful to everyone in the business. When deciding on what systems a business needs, there is always the debate about whether to buy, build or borrow.
Whether they are databases or data warehouses, BI or analytical systems, businesses need to decide which option is best for them. With the maturity of software-as-a-service offerings and the emergence of cloud computing, borrowing what you need is becoming more feasible.
That requires a business to determine how fast it needs the data processed and analysed and returned as something meaningful. Where a business is able to react in real-time and make tactical decisions, having systems which tell them how they are performing in real-time will prove beneficial. For the rest, it’s about balancing the investment with the business benefit.
To truly realise the benefits of data and the systems they sit in, businesses need to have the right people with the relevant skills. These skills range from being able to identify what data to create and collect, how to mine and analyse the data for insight and knowledge, to how to present the data in a digestible format. That includes automated reports and dashboards as well as creative visualisations of the data so that anyone in the organisation can understand the story the data is telling.
Finally, it requires people within the organisation who know what to do with that insight and knowledge to deliver true business benefits. As with all things, becoming a data-driven business will be a journey. Organisations will need to learn as they move forward how best to utilise data in the running of their business.