Why you can't afford to ignore the Big Data Revolution

15 April 2015 -


It’s the hot topic in every boardroom and business journal, but – despite all the noise and hype – most business leaders have no idea what to do about it

Bernard Marr

Today, every two minutes we are generating the same amount of data created from the beginning of time until the year 2000. Big Data – the digital trace we all leave – offers endless opportunities for business but the sheer scale of information at our disposal poses its own set of problems.

Some stand on the sidelines feeling the pressure of inaction with every article they read about the Big Data revolution. Others dive in, trying to work out what data they can access and how to use it. But they get completely lost and end up drowning in their own information, unable to convert it into insight and meaning.

So, how do you make Big Data work for your business? Reassuringly, the answer is not to collect everything and produce the biggest, most complex database in the world. Your aim should be the opposite: to get really clear about what data you need, can and will use, and build the smallest, most straightforward database in the world.

There is probably more than enough data in your business right now for you to tap into the power of Big Data without stellar tech or eye-watering budgets. It can transform your business – but only if you focus on Smart Data, not Big Data.

Don’t start with the data, start with strategy. What are your business objectives? What specifically are you trying to achieve? This will automatically point you towards the key questions you need to answer, which will narrow your data requirements into manageable areas.

This is my SMART Data model: 

  1. Start with strategy – list your strategic objectives for the main areas of your business and what information you need in order to answer the key questions in each one. 
  2. Measure metrics and data – identify what data you would ideally need to answer these questions, then choose the best options, based on how easy and cost effective the data is to collect.
  3. Apply analytics – use a combination of text, sound, image, video and sensor data to identify patterns and learn more about your business, from customers to employees. 
  4. Report results – the insights are useless unless they are presented clearly. Wherever possible, use a one-page info-graphic - don’t bury them in an impenetrable 50-page report.
  5. Transform your business – use the insights to improve your decision-making, customer experience, employee relationships and your business performance.

Part two of this article can be found here.

Bernard Marr is the author of Big Data: Using Smart Big Data Analytics and Metrics to Make Better Decisions and Improve Performance. Follow him on Twitter.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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