As Big Data initiatives become the norm and companies collect increasingly large and complex amounts of information, decision-makers are realizing that real-time analytics may not be fast enough to provide the advantage they need to thrive in today's competitive landscape. This discovery has encouraged many executives to pursue forward-thinking strategies that deliver foresight, not mere insight, into how prospective customers may act in the future.
The benefits associated with leveraging predictive analytics are becoming clearer, and roughly 90 percent of organizations responding to a recent SAP survey said the use of these tools has given them a competitive advantage. Because 95 percent of companies said they have witnessed an increase in the volume of information they deal with on a regular basis within the past year, the majority of executives believe predictive analytics will play a critical role in the development of the business world during the next 5 years.
"If businesses can put the right investment into developing a data-driven workforce, alongside data-driven decisions, processes, and applications, they can accelerate their performance, reduce decision latency, unlock new global markets, and uncover new revenue opportunities," said James Fisher, vice president of marketing and analytics at SAP.
These benefits have driven more than 60 percent of decision-makers to agree that predictive analytics is currently a prioritized investment within their organizations. During the past several years, however, enterprises have taken new interest in advanced analytic strategies, especially tools that can help executives and employees create a blueprint for the directions they should travel in the future.
Far-sighted businesses are a different breed
Although the idea of predictive analytics isn't new, organizations are procuring and leveraging these tools in a different way than before. In the past, companies would assess the threat landscape in particular in an effort to improve risk management and avoid unnecessary security complications. Although these types of initiatives are still in practice today, enterprises are now using predictive analytics for something else: improving customer service.
SAP revealed that rather than minimizing risk, businesses are using advanced analytic strategies to capitalize on new opportunities, primarily those within the client management, marketing, and sales departments. Having the ability to anticipate customer actions is highly advantageous in today's fast-paced environments where individuals are just as likely to abandon a brand as they are to sign up with a new one.
A separate AgilOne survey found that companies using predictive analytics are able to provide customers with a better experience because decision-makers have a a clearer idea of what clients are seeking. This has been a constant problem for marketing teams, especially during the recent digital explosion. Now that executives can acquire more information about consumers, firms are in a position to build more creative and unique interactions.
"Finally, technology has caught up with the business issues. A new paradigm of using predictive analytics to increase customer intimacy is now possible," said Omer Artun, CEO of AgilOne.
In the coming years, Big Data and cloud computing technologies will continue to evolve and transform the way organizations approach the workday and carry out mission-critical tasks. Predictive analytics in particular will give companies of all sizes the unique opportunity to see into the future and assess the value of pursuing various processes. The ability to do so will be especially useful regarding customer service, which has become an increasingly difficult field to tackle as consumers become more tech-savvy and aware of how responsive firms are to dealing with client issues. By planning ahead and deploying comprehensive Big Data and analytic strategies, businesses may find themselves establishing new connections with customers and building a stronger bottom line.
The cloud computing landscape is expected to continue transforming in 2014 as businesses around the world become more familiar with the hosted services and eliminate some of the mystery surrounding the technology. In the past, "cloud washing," which was classified as vendors polishing up old solutions and claiming them as "cloud" services, impacted how decision-makers felt toward the hosted landscape. In 2014, providers and executives will work together to develop more accurate and comprehensive definitions to reduce confusion.
A Help Net Security report highlighted this trend, which will help organizations pursue the cloud in more meaningful and effective ways. This demystification will occur through the development of integrated and properly designed cloud solutions that will be built in an effort to augment business operations.
Furthermore, enterprise executives won't necessarily be pinned down to implementing private or public cloud services separately. Due to recent innovations, companies now have the power to launch so-called hybrid cloud solutions that enable traditionally segregated cloud offerings to integrate and work together seamlessly. Help Net Security noted that the momentum behind hybrid cloud strategies will pick up speed in 2014, especially as firms seek new infrastructure technologies that make it easier to adopt next-generation operational trends.
A new cloud landscape
Although virtually all cloud services provide users with some benefits, hybrid offerings enable organizations to take advantage of the security of private solutions with the opportunity to expand into the public environment and use its highly scalable architecture. These capabilities have become especially important in the past several years as business operations have become more complex and the threat landscape has become more menacing.
Help Net Security noted that as cybercrime evolves, cloud security standards will advance to keep confidential assets safe. A separate Websense report highlighted similar concerns, revealing that analysts believe malicious outsiders will be more interested in cloud data than penetrating conventional networks. In 2014 and beyond, providers will continue to prioritize security and eliminate the possibility of unnecessary exposure.
In the coming years, cloud and other technologies will continue to evolve, encouraging decision-makers to pursue various cloud solutions to meet their specific needs and requirements. Businesses will need to be vigilant in 2014 because the new year always introduces unforeseen challenges. By planning ahead and watching the cloud market, organizations may gain a better chance for success.
Over the past few years, it has become increasingly clear that no matter the industry or the size of the company, certain individuals can leverage Big Data technology to give their operations a leg up over the competition and provide better services to clients. Using Big Data enables the emergence of patterns and other information that might not have been obvious when the data points were parceled out in smaller bundles.
That being said, recent information has suggested that the use of analytics can benefit some individuals in leadership roles more than others. For instance, gyro Senior Strategist Luke Bemis, writing for Forbes Magazine, pointed out that the use of Big Data is changing the responsibilities of chief marketing officers (CMOs) because they are increasingly being called on to understand complex technologies and data sets.
Bemis noted that CMOs will be some of the only administrators who will be able to harness Big Data technology as times goes on.
"This is what makes Big Data high stakes. Moreover, this is what will separate the CMO of yesterday from the CMO of tomorrow," Bemis wrote.
In fact, a separate Forbes article explained that of all the requests a CMO might have in the office, Big Data is close to the top of the list because technology is increasingly being used to solve business problems. The magazine suggested that to continue to play a key role in the work place, CMOs will have to use analytics to take a more natural and consumer-centric approach to Big Data down the road. Doing so can result in more focused campaigns, targeted products and services, and continued success as the business cycle progresses.
Remaining competitive is one of the top corporate objectives within today's business world. Having the ability to accurately gather insight into prospective and existing customer behavior as well as internal operations is among the best ways to establish a competitive advantage. Doing so often requires firms to use various Big Data technologies that make it easier to collect, store, and assess large volumes of information.
During the past 18 months or so, companies have launched an accelerated adoption plan for Big Data tools, according to a new AIIM report. Although information analysis is widely viewed as a critical capability in today's environment, roughly 60 percent of responding organizations said they have limited business intelligence powers, which means they may be viewing different projects and endeavors inaccurately.
Today, the conceptual benefits of Big Data projects are being broadly accepted across the enterprise landscape; however, many firms may not be pursuing these initiatives in the right way. As a result, these companies are generating more "dark data," which is classified as information sets that aren't properly labeled or controlled.
"Big Data potentially holds huge insight for organizations, but the mass of "dark data" could impact the ability to extract that insight effectively," said Doug Miles, director of market intelligence at AIIM. "Businesses should look to harness their information and combine it across disparate systems as a precursor to their Big Data journey."
Overcoming Big Data adversity
The fact of the matter is that the idea of Big Data is relatively unfamiliar to many firms, especially smaller organizations that aren't necessarily accustomed to collecting and managing huge volumes of information. AIIM highlighted how a large number of businesses are struggling to find the talent needed to maintain robust Big Data initiatives, which is why 34 percent of respondents said they have outsourced the projects to a more knowledgeable and capable third party. Another 13 percent noted that they brought in outside help to alleviate complications.
Nevertheless, the survey found that companies are relentless in their dedication to Big Data. Approximately 34 percent of respondents said they believe Big Data will be essential for the business to experience success in the future. Meanwhile, 60 percent of organizations stated that their initial return on investment is "good," which suggests that enterprises are at least pursuing the Big Data projects that align with their needs.
In a Sand Hill report, IT expert Chris Kocher highlighted how it is important that decision-makers understand that Big Data isn't a one-size-fits-all strategy because each company has unique goals, capabilities, and projections. Kocher asserted that building a Big Data initiative means understanding and incorporating both traditionally structured information as well as newer, less familiar unstructured assets. Meanwhile, executives must ensure their organization has the ability to collect those resources from various internal and external sources if they want to maximize the value of their Big Data projects and gather a wide view of multiple environments.
Launching a successful Big Data project also means making sure that the hype surrounding the strategy doesn't surpass the actual capabilities of the endeavor, Kocher noted. This often happens when organizations adopt plans too quickly that haven't taken all factors into account, leading to an unrealistic expectation of how Big Data will impact operations.
There's no doubt that properly executed Big Data initiatives will transform the way companies view and approach their futures. Overcoming initial hype and challenges will be critical to achieving these benefits because encountering pitfalls early on will only result in a poor perception of Big Data, causing organizations to miss out on a number of critical opportunities.
Recent industry surveys and consumer reports have indicated that companies around the world need to consider getting control of the information in their possession and turning meaningless resources into critical insight. This imperative has encouraged business decision-makers to embrace Big Data initiatives, many of which promise to reduce costs and provide new perspectives into the customer landscape. Although these endeavors will likely continue gaining momentum in 2014, organizations must take a look at the bigger picture to truly be successful.
A recent ZDNet report highlighted how Big Data initiatives are often overkill because the projects require firms to collect, store, and analyze more information than might be necessary. Having a broad range of data assets to choose from will likely provide enterprises with more opportunities to convert those resources into useful information; however, the mere presence of such large volumes of data can introduce potential performance and security issues.
The fact of the matter is that Big Data is difficult to approach, ZDNet noted. Although cloud computing and other advanced technologies can give organizations the ability to scale their infrastructure as needed to meet the demands of the growing information in their possession, most sales, marketing, and customer service departments don't need such vast quantities of data to improve operations. Small Data, on the other hand, can connect employees with critical insight that is packaged in a way that makes it highly accessible and easy to understand.
ZDNet noted that Small Data initiatives are poised to pick up speed in 2014 and may even emerge as a mainstream movement during the course of the year. There are several driving factors behind this growing phenomenon.
Small Data is prevalent
The emerging social media and mobile landscapes are providing organizations of all sizes with easy access to an abundance of Small Data. As the use of these technologies accelerates in the coming years, businesses need to consider how they can aggregate and use this information to improve operations. ZDNet highlighted how people are constantly creating Small Data that can easily be collected by forward-thinking organizations, allowing those enterprises to gain greater insight into current and prospective objectives.
A separate Open Knowledge Foundation report highlighted how Small Data can be extremely helpful for organizations that don't necessarily have the financial or operational resources to back significant Big Data initiatives. However, that doesn't mean smaller businesses can't collect and analyze information on customers and employees, but only that they may need to do so differently from larger enterprises.
By adopting Small Data projects, companies can piece together critical processes instead of launching a single, all-encompassing strategy that may not be able to hit more detailed objectives.
Simple is better
In many cases, businesses will need to hire data scientists and other professionals to properly tackle Big Data initiatives. Small Data, on the other hand, can often be collected and used by non-technical employees, ZDNet noted. This finding means that more organizations will be able to adopt information management strategies without worrying about being overwhelmed or feeling like a fish out of water.
In the coming years, information will become increasingly important. Regardless of whether firms adopt Small or Big Data initiatives, decision-makers need to map out a strategy and find out how they can properly collect, analyze, and use information to improve operations and gain a competitive advantage. By taking the time to understand their firm's critical long-term objectives, executives may be able to build a customized blueprint that optimizes performance and makes hitting those goals less challenging.
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