contributor Gil Press wrote in September 2013 about a NewVantage Partners survey of Fortune 1000 C-Suite executives and executives responsible for big data. His article was a response to a prognostication by
James Glanz in The New York Times that the economy was still essentially in the
doldrums, and that big data will never revitalize the economy the same way as the first wave of the Internet evolution.
I argue that
expecting gargantuan economic resurgence from big data that is commensurate
with the Internet misses the point of big data. We should expect big data to
boost revenues and improve profit margins, and companies are already seeing
that occur. However, big data also improves how companies operate and manage
other emerging factors, such as a workforce that isn’t as well-educated or trained and a customer base that is more knowledgeable than ever.
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survey also reveals that companies are farther along with their big data strategies and thinking than many would believe. For instance, in 2012, a
little over one third of survey respondents reported big
data investments of one million dollars or more. In 2013, 68 percent of executives
reported big data investments in excess of one million dollars, and 88 percent
said they had plans to spend more than one million dollars on big data
initiatives by 2016.
Equally impressive were the big data results
in these organizations. At least 32 percent of executives surveyed said they
had big data initiatives that already were fully operational, in production, or
operationalized across the corporation — with over 70 percent of these executives
stressing the need to further accelerate analytical processes and the development
of more sophisticated analytics.
While the NewVantage survey respondents heavily
represented the financial services industry (which is ahead of most other industry
sectors when it comes to big data management and analytics), this picture tells
us that organizations are no longer in discovery or early phases of big data
and analytics. In fact, many have already seen the gains that analytics can
bring to their organizations, and are moving forward into new frontiers of analytics
that they see bringing even greater benefits to their companies. For these organizations,
big data has moved out of the gates and is now in a phase of maturation that
sees companies raising the bar on what they want next from their big data.
At the forefront of most of these companies’ agendas is improving revenues and competitive advantage and
expanding profit margins, as well as overcoming fundamental
If you operate a supply chain, for example, predictive
analytics can now tell you which areas of the world are most likely to experience
natural or other disasters so you can spread your supplier base to areas of
less risk, thereby proactively managing your risk.
you are a large industrial company like GE, you can use big data to capitalize on the Internet of Things (IoT) so the millions of devices that you manufacture
and place in homes and businesses around the world can be remotely managed and repaired — building
up service revenues into a business of its own.
If your workforce no longer has the skills or
experience to make or service your products, you can use big data to automate
manufacturing and even service processes to make up the slack for lower skills
levels or language barriers.
Not all of these examples make tangible deliveries to
bottom lines or to end revenues, but they are making a difference. Above all, they are clear market indicators
that many companies are no longer in the beginning stages of big data. This is an
appropriate warning to any company that thinks it has limitless time to launch its big data initiatives and obtain difference-making results.
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