Delivering Actionable Insights from Big Data

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Enterprise companies are flooded with massive amounts of information about customer activity from a variety of sources, including social media, sales transactions and customer feedback. This wave of information, known as big data, presents a way to develop insights into customers' demands, opening up new avenues for business opportunities. The challenge is being able to analyze the data and extract the most pertinent information in order to better connect with consumers to increase profitability.

The current view of big data and its benefits

The term big data goes back to the late 1980s, when traditional computer systems couldn't manage the amount of data users generated. Today, the term is a buzzword in the technology and marketing fields, yet many have wondered if it's nothing more than the latest business hype. The reason for this is that, although people constantly proclaim how important big data is, many companies don't have a clear path to take action and actually benefit from it.

Despite this uncertainty, innovative sales and marketing teams are already making more informed business decisions than ever before and reaching new levels of success. Big data offers unparalleled opportunities by providing a means of deriving critical information from multiple sources and then enabling enterprise decision makers to capitalize on that information. The first hurdle is making all of this information easily consumable across an entire company so the right people can act on it quickly to drive strategic benefits.

Developing data-driven insights

It's clear what the result of a data-driven analytics plan should be: a more effective marketing strategy and increased profitability. The issue is how to analyze the data intelligently enough to reach that stage. Executives, marketers and IT professionals are struggling to put big data to work, and determining what the obstacles are is the first step toward avoiding future problems.

Big data's pain points

An International Data Group (IDG) research study recently set out to identify the most significant difficulties for an enterprise company adapting big data analytics. The participants included 200 executives and IT professionals, and most participants indicated that the primary downside was the amount of time and resources required to extract value from their information. Over 85 percent agreed that big data's main benefit is in helping to make astute business decisions, but only 23 percent reported that their big data endeavors had found success.

The survey identified several points of difficulty:

Time: After implementing a big data plan, it could be months before a company sees results.

Data accessibility: Uncertainty exists around determining the optimum source of information and being able to derive information from it.

Cost: Allocating enough funds for a big data project is difficult.

Skills: With big data analytics being a new endeavor, there's a training gap for many IT professionals tasked with taking on such a project.

Big data and storage

Being aware of the hype surrounding big data while understanding how it can benefit your organization is a great way to take a balanced view. The real question is: After deciding to adopt a big data strategy, where should you begin? One place to start is data storage, where software and updated architecture are introducing new solutions for big data challenges.

Making big data easier to manage will require that your IT architecture be adaptable enough to better manage data access, security and distribution. A company's IT architecture must be able to handle instant updates and changes, especially in data sources. The other IT issue is addressing the secure sharing of specific and up-to-date information with partners. Companies must update thier data policies to accommodate new types of data and analysis, particularly cloud data.

Opportunities for achievement

When it comes to future marketing plans, you must ask certain questions. What do you want to achieve using big data analytics? Will your company need to plan for storage requirements, such as cloud block storage? Will the C-level leaders of your organization be receptive to any new strategies or changes that big data will require?

As people become more tech savvy and control how information reaches them, big data will continue to grow in importance; your organization will have to adopt new ways of connecting with them and maintaining your relevance in the digital marketplace.

Amy Bishop
Amy works in marketing and digital strategy. Specializing in social business, Amy focuses on the convergence of marketing, digital strategy and customer experience - developing strategies to help companies increase sales, lead generation, web traffic and brand awareness. Connect with Amy on Twitter, LinkedIn or Pinterest.

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