Our world is built on information. There are unimaginable amounts of data pouring in from every direction, just waiting to be analysed, and put to good use. Whilst data was once limited in volume, well-structured and easy to use, the massive amount of data generated today is unstructured and complex to analyse. For businesses with the courage to tackle it head on, Big Data holds untold potential for driving business forward.
Data is constantly generated from smart technologies, sensors, mobile devices, social media interactions, and thousands of other sources. Since much is generated by analysis of personal habits, preferences and behaviours, it can be used to form actionable insights to help businesses form more specific, targeted, and personalised engagement strategies.
Here are just four areas where, if applied properly, Big Data can translate into big business success:
Increasing Operational Efficiency
Data-driven businesses need to be agile. Key decision makers need to be able to rapidly change course in response to shifting business trends. Doing so would be impossible without access to the data that enables informed, sound decision-making in real time. Basing these decisions on month-end reports, bills and financial statements is nowhere near fast enough to provide the kind of flexibility that today’s businesses need to be capable of. Quick decision-making is the key to operational efficiency, and Big Data is the fuel that drives it.
Identifying and avoiding bottlenecks
What if you could free up your business, its employees, and a large part of its operating capacity just by making a few tweaks? Big Data and predictive analytics can help you achieve it. Using historical information on your business’s operations, systems and processes, bottlenecks can be quickly identified and attended to. Decision makers can now easily spot where materials and efforts are inefficient and improve these processes to run optimally.
Before the advent of big data, information about the various departments within an organisation were isolated in silos that limited internal communication and collaboration. Gone are the days of looking at data sources one at a time to yield small answers. Big Data draws information from a broad range of sources and all corners of an organisation, including customer relationships, purchase histories, competitors, partners, social media and many more. Thanks to Big Data analytics platforms, corporate information can easily be shared across all levels and departments of an organisation, enabling them to work collaboratively, share insights and formulate aligned strategies that drive results.
There are many benefits to using Big Data in the development of new products and services. Businesses can create products that appeal to and increases value to their customers, mitigate product launch risks, and manage product development resources more efficiently. With the ability to rapidly develop products and services, businesses can better serve their customers and attract new ones based on their preferences.
Big Data continues to prove itself to be an extremely powerful tool for those organisations with the foresight to embrace it. Investing in the necessary IT architecture and infrastructure, staff training and development of a data-driven company culture, will give organisations the competitive advantage in information-driven markets and enjoy sustainable, profitable growth for years into the future.
Andries van Staden, Managing Director: Innovation Group South Africa.