Nobody Puts Big Data in a Corner

Loraine Lawson
Slide Show

Capitalizing on Big Data: Analytics with a Purpose

It’s easy to type cast analytics. After all, it so easily fits in with BI that we tend to want to think about Big Data as a tool for business analysts, finance and IT leaders. But nobody puts Big Data in a corner, and a recent DC Velocity article shows why.

If you’re unfamiliar with the magazine/website, DC Velocity covers supply chain and logistics, and the piece is actually a republished CSCMP Supply Chain Quarterly journal article. The point of the article is to show how Big Data analytics can be useful to supply chain leaders, but it actually makes the case for why all managers should educate themselves on analytics.

“Without a full understanding of what the field of analytics is about, supply chain managers may be missing out on many opportunities—both for their companies and for themselves,” the article states.

Sit with that for a minute. Supply chain managers need a full understanding, it says. Not a cursory understanding. Not a rudimentary understanding. Not a 5,000-foot view, but a full understanding.

To that end, the article identifies three things supply chain managers should know. These three takeaways are pretty simple statements — e.g., Big Data is not just for the IT department. But remember, this was a journal article, so there’s actually a lot of depth to the piece.

For instance, the article explores the three definitions of Big Data. Mostly, I’ve written about the IT-centric view, which defines Big Data as data sets that are too large or complex for traditional systems. This piece points out two other definitions:

  1. Big Data as the “universe” of data for a given subject, which is explored in “Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think.” (One of the authors gave a Google Talk on the book, if you’d like to learn more.)
  2. The press definition, which is using any data creatively. I reject being implicated in that, but I can’t deny that others use Big Data that way, so I’ll let it go.

The article also drills down on the three types of analytics and what they can do for supply chain leaders. I would argue that any division chief — including logistics — will need to understand these distinctions as businesses roll out sensors and other Internet of Things technology.

Finally, the article discusses machine learning and algorithms — pretty technical stuff, but written in an accessible way. Check it out, and consider sharing it with non-data, non-IT leaders.

You’ll never be sorry.

Loraine Lawson is a veteran technology reporter and blogger. She currently writes the Integration blog for IT Business Edge, which covers all aspects of integration technology, including data governance and best practices. She has also covered IT/Business Alignment and IT Security for IT Business Edge. Before becoming a freelance writer, Lawson worked at TechRepublic as a site editor and writer, covering mobile, IT management, IT security and other technology trends. Previously, she was a webmaster at the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and a newspaper journalist. Follow Lawson at Google+ and on Twitter.

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