‘Big insight’ vital to effective use of data

While many companies may be turning to big data analytics solutions because they have been lured by its promise of fast, actionable results that can be used to drive business growth, one thing that will be important to remember is that technical capabilities alone will not be enough to see success.

In addition to this, organisations need to make sure they have the skills and processes in place to convert their data into useful insight that employees understand and are able to act on. This was emphasised by a recent report from Forrester, which noted that "all the big data technology in the world won't close the gaps between data and action".

Therefore, the report, by analysts Ted Schadler and Brian Hopkins, noted that to become a truly digital business, companies need to develop new ways of harnessing the insights that matter. To do this, the pair identified five critical advances that organisations must make to move beyond traditional approaches to data analytics.

To start, enterprises need to create a new model that combines business, data, and technology expertise. This will involve "small insights teams led by business leaders and domain experts working together in both directions: business-to-data and data-to-execution", Mr Schadler stated.

Secondly, insight teams need to be testing and implementing digital insights within their software systems. It will be incumbent on IT personnel such as developers to take the lead in this testing to identify the most effective digital insights.

Businesses also need to appreciate that it is an evolving system, so they need to be prepared to learn from their activities, testing each new insight and rejecting those that do not help. These failed insights should not be seen as wasted time, however, as both positive and negative results will help improve the discovery and implementation of data insights.

This will help ensure that "the data you care most about will come into focus instead of being randomly interesting", Mr Schadler continued.

Next, companies should expand their big data and business intelligence insights into a new architecture that includes a data science workbench, insights execution and feedback, and a collaborative toolkit, the report said. this will require a great deal of effort in order to be successful, but it should not require a major financial commitment.

"Fifth, chief information officers won't do this alone," Mr Schadler said. "They will work with their chief marketing officer colleague to unite budgets, charter insights teams, and find immediate benefits to drive investment."

The result of this, if these processes are applied effectively, will be more intelligent customer engagement, a more direct link between investments made on the back of insights and positive business outcomes, and an improved ability for an enterprise to harness its digital data.