Businesses ‘at risk’ from poorly managed big data

Companies that fail to adequately harness their increasing volumes of information may find themselves doing significant harm to their business.

This is according to Eddie Short, head of business intelligence at KPMG, who told the fifth annual Cloud World Forum in London that firms must strike a balance between gathering more customer data and analyzing it carefully. He said organizations that are unable to ask the right questions risk misinterpreting their information and making the wrong decisions.

His comments noted that while big data analytics can provide more certainty to decision-makers, it does not automatically lead to them making better choices. Some companies are also falling into the trap of assuming that new technology solutions will make data analytics easy enough for anyone to do.

In fact, this is not the case, as enterprises still need to have the right expertise in order to make the most of their digital assets. It was recently noted by Guy Harrison, executive director of research and development for Dell, in a piece for VentureBeat that it will be vital for firms to have qualified data scientists who understand all aspects of big data challenges, including statistical analysis techniques, business insight and innovative problem solving abilities.

Mr Short said: "Since big data became the 'must have' business fashion accessory many organizations have lost their focus about the information that can make a real difference to their bottom line."

He stated that instead, there is a perception that success is about the amount of data they can harvest, how quickly they can do this and the range of information they can gather. This is known is the three Vs of big data – volume, velocity and variety.

But Mr Short added this is not as vital to businesses as being able to employ better governance over the data that is collected, or understanding which of it will be helpful to grow the company and mitigate risks. "In other words, veracity and value matter more," he said.

It was observed by the expert that identifying key patterns in customer behavior through connecting signals from multiple business units is increasingly important in enabling better management of risks and opportunities.

However, he noted that even though processes that would have previously taken analysts months can now be done in minutes – though this does not mean it will be easy.

In his speech to delegates at the conference, Mr Short also stated that the concept of a single enterprise data warehouse is becoming consigned to history as new techniques for handling information see widespread adoption.

"To keep on top of customer needs, the goal remains to move towards an information-centric operating model, but rather than rely on one source, companies have to monitor multiple metrics and respond accordingly," he stated.

Organizations that do not do this are likely to continue using poor-quality data at the heart of their decision-making, which will result in greater inefficiencies and more customer experience issues.

Mr Short noted: "As a concern of the boardroom, nothing has changed. The risks and opportunities remain – they have just been amplified by big data."