Monday, December 14, 2015

Big Data Works for Business: We Can Prove it!

 jonah engler - big data for business

Despite reams of evidence to the contrary, some companies still don’t believe big data will work for their business. Sure, we can point out industry after industry implementing big data programs, large and small. We can elaborate with how and why and when they worked, what they helped improve and exactly how they can work for you … but I’m guessing, if you are still holding out, you may have already heard all that before.

So, instead, we’re just going to prove it. Big data claims are not about “if it can work” anyway. These days, it’s more about how well it can work, and what you can do to make it work better. There are several steps any business can take to better understand how big data works, how it drives outcomes and the connection between data analysis and business growth.

Sure, trying to establish the return on your big data investment might be difficult, but it’s something you do need to quantify. Yes, there are a lot of variables, but variables are what big data handles best. So, stop worrying about how hard it might be and begin to understand how necessary it should be. In other words, you should EXPECT to see a valid ROI with big data. Here’s how…

Step one is to fully and clearly understand your objective. What issue are you trying to tackle? What question do you want to answer? If you aren’t clear on that first, your big data will not perform optimally, no matter how advanced it is. In fact, one of the chief reasons big data programs fail to produce accurate results or adequate ROI is because the company involved did not properly describe the problem, outline the metrics or apply the technology. Simply put, you can’t create a solution if you don’t fully understand the problem.

But what if you don’t know how to calculate big data ROI for your entire business? Well, then figure it out the same way you eat an elephant. One bit at a time. Go project to project or department to department. Measure and tweak until you are getting optimal ROI for that department or project. Then move to another. Repeat, as needed, until you are certain big data is performing as it should in all aspects of your business operation. Once you understand what you are trying to accomplish and you are certain your program is working optimally, use those results to temper your expectation. It does you absolutely no good to get your engine primed to purpose only to expect it to perform outside of established perimeters. Sure, big data might feel like magic, but it can’t deliver miracles. Data analysis might increase your capacity, but that capacity still has limits. In fact, you should better understand those limits now. Don’t pretend they don’t exist.

Understand that your ROI from project to project may very well offer a different ROI scale. In other words, if one system is delivering outstanding results and another is only “doing better than before” both might still be optimized. Remember, there is no “fair” in business, and nothing is ever truly equal. The key is to get everything working the best it can work, then build within and according to those standards.

Jonah Engler is an entrepreneur who hails from NYC.

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