We hear a lot about the growing importance of big data as a tool for business advantage. But how is this data being used? Is it primarily for one-off tactical initiatives? Or is big data starting to make an impact on C-Level decisions and in the boardroom?
It is true that big data offers potential benefits to every member of the senior executive team. For the sales director, it can enhance insight into customers and prospects, increase productivity and effectiveness and ultimately revenue.
For the CMO, it can help drive marketing strategy, customer segmentation and social media analysis. Product line owners use it to understand future needs and make design decisions. And for CIOs, big data can kick-start the connection between IT and business goals and by driving the big data conversation at senior level, win the ear of the CEO.
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Yet, to what extent has this now been achieved – how successful has the CIO been in shifting the conversation from the IT department to the boardroom?
The signs are positive. In a recent Talend big data adoption survey, two of the top three drivers for big data were linked to improving the bottom line. 51% indicated revenue optimisation was a key driver and 48% new revenue generation, underlining companies' drive to do more in-depth analysis to maximise wallet and market share.
Driving Competitive Edge
To be a source of business advantage, big data solutions need to create and apply new types of processing to data sets, driving new value through the creation of innovative business models, products or services.
Today, they are being used in a range of ways to drive revenue generation, optimisation and business advantage and C-Level directors are sitting up and paying attention.
From targeted marketing, to fraud detection to trading optimisation — the examples of how businesses in various industries are leveraging big data to optimise revenues are endless. Banks and credit card companies focus on analysing transactions to detect fraud, and retail chains are fine-tuning their inventories based on historical trends.
In line with this, the number one business driver, highlighted by 68% of respondents with a big data strategy was to increase the accuracy and depth of analytics or the ability to analyse current and historical data to make predictions. In other words, businesses today are increasingly seeing the value of big data as an approach that can drive competitive advantage.
The language of analytics typically appeals to C-Level executives and its potential to drive business edge is a major selling point to the board.
A recent survey conducted by technology research firm, Economist Intelligence Unit, found that top business executives want big data access for more of their employees in the hope that more people using analytics tools will lead to a more productive organisation.
77% of global executives surveyed agreed that more employees should access big data while 66% said big data is 'instrumental in seizing market opportunities'.
Yet, despite acknowledging these benefits, 47% of respondents said they don't expect to increase investments in big data over the next three years, with 37% referencing financial constraints as a barrier to such investment.
Fortunately, there are solutions available today that can address these concerns. Today, big data is coming more and more into the mainstream.
CIOs are acting as the evangelists for these kinds of solutions. And they are helping ensure that growing numbers of organisations, and the CEOs and other C-Level directors that lead them, realise that information can be their key differentiator and that big data can drive business advantage by enabling them to reduce customer churn, more effectively target new markets, tackle fraud, or simply make faster, better-informed business decisions.
- Yves de Montcheuil is the Vice President of Marketing at Talend, the recognized leader in open source integration. Yves holds a master's degree in electrical engineering and computer science and has 20 years of experience in software product management, product marketing and corporate marketing. He is also a presenter, author, blogger, social media enthusiast.