Capitalizing on Big Data: Analytics with a Purpose

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Capitalizing on Big Data: Analytics with a Purpose

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Much of today's euphoria over Big Data and analytics is well-deserved. The availability of large volumes of rich, high-quality source data is opening new avenues to better understand customers, markets and operations. As these emerging technologies continue to race ahead, there is an unprecedented opportunity to harvest those data streams and generate incredible new insights. However, while those insights are a critical first step, they are far from sufficient in guaranteeing a lasting, sustainable advantage for any firm. Only through the conversion of new insights into realized value can a firm truly capitalize on the promise of Big Data.

This is why: organizations tend to follow a familiar pattern. First, a small, targeted pilot shows initial promise and generates a few "ah-ha" moments. With this success, businesses often rush into gathering and storing every last bit of data they can capture, convincing themselves that there must be something valuable contained within. The creation of "data lakes" and extensive "skimming" operations has only achieved limited success because of the lack of availability of skilled staff, tools and analytical methods. Ultimately, firms will hit a problem of moving and storing so much data, which in turn compounds the problem.

An alternative to this notion is the purpose-driven analytical strategy, where firms first identify their needs, and then derive the ultimate source of data they need to improve their business. As Jack Welch famously stated, "start with the answer" and let that channel your efforts. The reward is a guarantee that your initial data gathering will have a direct impact on your firm's success. In this slideshow, Tom Fountain, CTO of Pneuron, has identified five steps organizations can use to drive analytics with a purpose.