Big Data, Analytics Need Planning, Support

The inevitable growth of information in the business world is driving the need for better management and evaluation strategies. The presence of Big Data without complementary analytics simply won't provide companies with anything new, and their infrastructure will continue to be weighed down by complex and incomprehensible information.

Organizations are quickly realizing the benefits associated with collecting, storing, analyzing, and using customer data in real time. Doing so often provides a competitive advantage over other companies that haven't taken a similar approach to their information management strategies. If businesses want to leverage data in real time, however, they also need to implement comprehensive analytics -- a task that is more daunting up close than it appears from afar.

This was one of the findings of a new IBM study, which found that a growing number of companies are using analytics to generate revenue, not necessarily cut costs. At the same time, however, a large segment of executives said these endeavors aren't perfect because they tend to lack support from C-level leaders, trust from other workers, and a workforce with the skills needed to make the most of such projects.

"In order to unlock the value of data, organizations need to identify different C-suite champions to get fully behind the use of analytics," said Fred Balboni, global leader and partner of the business analytics and optimization group at IBM Global Business Services.

Unfortunately, IBM noted that only a small portion of top business executives are evangelists for Big Data and analytic strategies. This lack of support often prevents organizations from achieving the customer service, financial, and other operational benefits that are otherwise associated with the complementary projects.

Plans will crumble without faith
IBM revealed that roughly 24 percent of Chief Executive Officers and Chief Operating Officers take on the roles of leading Big Data and analytics processes. Although this percentage is a jump from 2012, it still equates to a much lower level of support than cloud computing, mobile, and other endeavors that are gaining momentum. If organizations don't have executive sponsorship for Big Data, they'll encounter problems with funding, resource management, and overall progress. As a result, companies won't be able to gain the competitive advantages they need to maintain an edge over rival firms.

"It takes the right alignment of strategy, standards, technology, and organizational structure to reap the full potential of what business analytics offers," Balboni said.

Nevertheless, as Big Data continues to make headlines, high-level executives are becoming more familiar and comfortable with the initiatives. A separate CompTIA survey highlighted signs of improvement, noting that the majority of businesses in general are more confident in their Big Data programs than they were a year ago.

Despite this positive outlook, there is still room for progress. In the coming years, large enterprises and small businesses can both experience the advantages offered by Big Data and advanced analytics, including the ability to predict customer behavior, improve customer retention and engagement, and generate stronger revenue streams -- all of which will give firms an edge over organizations that haven't taken a liking to Big Data. To experience these benefits, however, decision-makers need to plan ahead and align their technological endeavors with the perspectives of C-level executives. By taking this approach, companies will improve the odds of experiencing long-term success, allowing them to augment operations in an otherwise increasingly competitive corporate environment.

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