Innovation the key to big data success

Over the last few years, many companies have come to recognize the huge potential that is offered to them by big data. However, a large number of organizations therefore come into such projects with extremely high expectations and no clear idea of what they will actually use their information to achieve, which leads to strategies failing.

It was noted by Frank Buytendijk, research vice-president at Gartner, that one of the key issues chief information officers struggle to understand when it comes to data is where the business value lies in it. He noted in an article for the Financial Times that organizations often get so caught up in the hype surrounding the technology that they fail to see the enormous impact on the way a firm does business.

Therefore, the challenge for many enterprises will be to change their mindset and look at their information in a different way in order to see where the best value lies and how they can be truly innovative with their data analytics activities.

"When it comes to the 'data', it's important to realise that the emphasis is on a different understanding of the value of information," Mr Buytendijk said. "This occurs by shifting from a traditional top-down sense, with an existing business question in mind that requires an answer, to valuing new ideas and new opportunities that emerge from all kinds of data, through a process of induction."

He added that fully embracing big data will be the key to success and one way to come up with innovative use cases for the solutions will be to take inspiration from other industries and look at how similar techniques can be applied to different outcomes.

For example, travel and transportation firms may use big data with their safety cameras to monitor how many train passengers are in each car, so they can direct individuals at the next stations to where there are still seats available. Retailers can use similar solutions to observe how many people are entering the store, then combine that with information on average shopping times and weather conditions to determine when is the best time to open up new cashiers.

Shopping malls can also learn from the games industry by tracking where visitors are in the stores through their smartphones, allowing them to share relevant coupons on the spot. Frequent visitors can also be monitored and rewarded for their loyalty by earning points. 

However, this is just the start of the potential usage scenarios for the growing volumes of data firms collect. Mr Buytendijk added one of the most exciting possibilities comes from treating information as a product in itself. He noted this is a new value discipline that the most forward-looking companies are already using to provide a better service to their customer.

"Utilities and banks already provide their customers with personalized dashboards about their use of financial products or energy. Remote patient monitoring is a growth business for healthcare providers or life science companies," he said.

Mr Buytendijk concluded: "Big data are not about just handling volume, nor is it about data. It is about creativity. Combine technology advancements with human ingenuity and the possibilities are endless."