Phrases such as “data deluge” and “infobesity” have become common over recent years as organisations in a wide range of sectors look to cope with just that - a massive increase in the amount of data that is collected and is available for analysis.
Many business leaders will understand the power that data can offer them, but will still assume that accessing the right technology to effectively harness that data is out of reach. However, the balance between the volume of data captured and the technology required to analyse it is increasingly approaching equilibrium.
Open source and cloud-based technologies have opened up a world of data processing capability that was previously available only to large multinationals that had the time, money and engineering skills to create and maintain in-house analysis capabilities. The barriers have been lowered, though the key challenge persists - having the technical expertise to operate in a new paradigm where both infrastructure and technologies are within the reach of most organisations.
The data v technology arms race
At companies such as Experian, we have long provided the solutions for crunching data to improve customer experience in marketing communications. Brands are comfortable with using data to improve micro-level interactions, for example ensuring that your customers are receiving the right message at the right time and in the preferred channel to maximise the chance of conversion. Our focus now, through the creation of Experian Analytics, is on creating technologies that can facilitate the delivery of a truly relevant user experience in low latency environments (ie, digital), with the depth of intelligence derived from science - both computer science and statistics.
Nevertheless, maximising the power that analytics offers organisations depends on businesses placing data at the centre of their culture and on the effective management of the complex data collected. The key issue here is the shortage of technical skills to employ big data technologies to manage the processing of extreme volumes of data, at high velocity, to enable the advanced statistical analysis that is required to make intelligent decisions.
The rise of the chief analytics officer
Analytics professionals can help to reduce uncertainty via their ability to manage complex data and derive advanced analytics and insights from it. They can operate at the intersection of computer science and statistics to ensure that businesses are effectively analysing and interpreting data.
In essence, data is transforming the way that businesses operate. The challenging scale of data is creating new breeds of executives within companies - the chief analytics officer and the chief data officer to name just two - to help businesses make sense of the tsunami of data we are all confronted with.
If handled correctly, this data can be analysed to provide micro-levels of detail, as with single customer interactions with brands. If it is correctly harvested and analysed, there is a second capability - to highlight trends and influence strategic decision making at the highest level. Make no mistake, big data is a big opportunity, but, to make the most of it, business leaders should be pushing for real change within their organisation, looking to this new data force to inform strategy and ensure that the right decisions are being made for the business at the right time.