Leveraging Resources Properly is Critical for Big Data Programs

As companies continue to recognize the prospect of large-scale Big Data programs, many organizations that have tried to adopt the necessary tools to support those initiatives haven't experienced the benefits they expected. There are several reasons for this outcome, including the fact that businesses often initially see Big Data as a "technical" project and assign the responsibilities to the IT department. In truth, the endeavors are much more comprehensive than that and need to be tackled from a variety of perspectives.

If firms adopt Big Data programs without a holistic mindset, they are bound to encounter issues that will prevent them from achieving the advantages that are often associated with the initiatives. A Bain & Company survey of 400 global organizations highlighted this problem, noting that as many as one-third of respondents have been categorized as "performance laggards"  in terms of Big Data. These businesses are 40 percent less likely to optimize finances and 80 percent less likely to augment decision-making capabilities than successful firms.

"Resolving to be data-driven requires fundamental change to teams and roles, business processes incentives, and even in leadership," said Travis Pearson, head of the technology practice in the Americas at Bain. "Unless you address these requirements, Big Data success is going to be elusive."

If businesses want to take full advantage of the Big Data phenomenon, they need to plan ahead and develop strategies that adhere to all employees who will be responsible for handling various forms of information. Doing so will often require executives to launch education and training sessions that teach individuals how to properly manage unstructured and structured data without introducing performance or security concerns.

Additionally, organizations need to find a way to actually use the information they collect because simply gathering and storing large volumes of data will eventually put too much stress on infrastructure to deliver any positive results.

Using data to optimize performance
Bain & Company revealed that organizations that have made effective use of Big Data often leverage information in their decision-making processes at least half the time. On average, however, firms use data about 28 percent of the time, and laggards only use information in 19 percent of procedures.

A separate Rocket Fuel and Forbes Insight survey echoed the importance of actually wielding data, noting that more than 90 percent of respondents that frequently incorporate new digital resources into their decision-making initiatives exceed expectations.

"The report shows that heavy users of Big Data are more likely to produce useful insights about consumers than organizations that lag in this respect," said Bruce Rogers, chief insights officer and head of the CMO Practice for Forbes Media. "Even more important, they're more likely to see gains in sales."

Although Big Data trends have been gaining momentum as of late, many organizations are still unsure how they can properly manage and actually use information. In many cases, executives simply tell employees to gather as much data as possible without really knowing how they can leverage those assets. This practice is a mistake and should be avoided at all costs.

Businesses that want to make the most of the Big Data landscape need to plan ahead, adopt a scalable infrastructure, and understand how they can leverage various types of information to improve certain operations. If companies don't take the time to establish some way to filter out useless data, they will find themselves overburdened and strained.

Decision-makers need to consider implementing and participating in training sessions to ensure the entire workplace is on the same page when it comes to Big Data because a poorly constructed initiative won't deliver the same opportunities as one that is customized and carefully planned.

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