Data becomes more plentiful with each passing day, and businesses are increasingly able to acquire data from additional sources. In other words, nowadays, it’s easier to ensure a proper balance of variety and volume. Therefore, the only things left for enterprises to worry about are the other two V’s of big data: veracity – the accuracy of data – and velocity – how fast new data is created and turned into insights. These aspects of analytics might introduce some challenges, but it’s nothing that some technology can’t fix. However, some businesses today are struggling with the sometimes-overlooked fifth V of big data.
In a blog post on IBM’s Big Data & Analytics Hub, business and data expert Bernard Marr asserted that value is the most important V of big data, despite the lack of attention it has received in the past. Marr’s reasoning is simple: All of the other V’s don’t matter if the end result of the data doesn’t deliver substantial business value.
“Value is the most important V of big data.”
The value of big data
Generating value from big data and analytics tools should be the first priority when embarking on these journeys, but too often, weeks and months into big data projects, executives, managers and employees lose sight of the main goal and end up wandering around trying to create more analytics initiatives before seeing results from the first. The problem is inherent: Big data and analytics shouldn’t be a series of projects, but rather an aspect of business culture.
Two recent reports – one conducted by Salesforce Research and the other written by Forbes Insights – came to the conclusion that the most successful enterprises with respect to big data and analytics have developed an internal “analytics-driven culture.” Organizations must be able to inject analytics strategies into the core of their operations if they want to see demonstrable value from their data. It is only with a big data-oriented corporate culture that businesses can truly transform operations, improve customer experiences and even help with the development of new products and services – all of which provide value to the bottom line.
The culture club
Forbes Insights found that out of “the best” companies – the top 10 percent of leading analytics organizations – a majority of executives said that they have an analytics strategy that is “well-established and central” to achieving their corporate goals. To add some perspective, “the best” businesses with respect to analytics earned 22.6 points out of 25 on the sources scale, while the average score for other entities was only 12.6. The leaders in this regard are way ahead of the pack.
“Analytics has to be a strategic imperative,” said Scott Filiault, vice president of information management and analytics at CIGNA, as cited by Forbes Insights.
The question, therefore, is how to become one of the greatest on the sources’ lists: What does it take to create a corporate culture that is driven by analytics, not just supported by it? First, analytics must become a high priority to implement and maintain. It must be a tenet of business, and therefore, supported by executives. According to Salesforce Research, 90 percent of “high performers” have an executive team willing to devote resources to procuring analytics tools and technologies and using them as though they are a critical aspect of their “business strategy.”
Fostering a culture
The source also found that companies that use analytics the best allows the average business user to leverage big data platforms. This demonstrates the importance of discovering insight on the typical employee, and it also empowers them to uncover trends industry or consumer behaviors. For example, Salesforce Wave would prove useful to sales departments, but only if salespeople can crunch their own data along with their coworkers’ to identify insights. Those small discoveries could prove useful in a larger context, and at the least, they can equate to short-term value on upcoming interactions.
“‘The best companies make decisions with data more so than judgment.”
Actually use data for more areas of business
According to Forbes Insights, 27 percent of “the best” companies at analytics make decisions with data more so than judgment. The key is to actually apply what’s learned to all areas of businesses, not just specific aspects. Salesforce Research’s report backs this idea up as well, finding that the highest performers when it comes to turning data into value have injected analytics into every operational aspect.
Just as Marr asserted on the IBM blog, data can help companies provide better customer service, with the author citing how Netflix produces its recommendations. But data also improves processes like in Uber’s case, as it predicts demand, and it can even make cybersecurity stronger – government agencies are leveraging data to discover instances of cybercrime.
For some smaller cultural changes, businesses can consider finding big data scientists and hiring analytics leaders who can help inject big data into everyday workflows as well as specific projects. Or, as in some cases, according to Forbes Insights, organizations can provide employees with bonuses when they discover hidden trends in data. At the end of the day, enterprises should do whatever it takes to make analytics drive business strategy.