Experts: With big data, smaller can be better

Big data analytics was like the new popular kid on the block in 2012, rapidly rising to become the must-have technology for all organizations and IT departments. But in the rush to implement big data strategies, many decision-makers missed the boat on what these tools should really be used for

"There's a tendency with big data to say, 'Mmm, I just want more data,'" Joe Rospars, CEO of Blue State Digital, recently told Fast Company. "But basically everyone already has too much data, and the question is how to use it and integrate it within your organization."

In a recent blog post for InfoWorld, IBM big data evangelist James Kobielus said that "the role of big data … is deliberately vague." What he meant by that is there isn't a single best practice strategy when it comes to using these tools. It's not meant to be used specifically for marketing, sales, IT professionals or C-level executives. 

Instead, he suggested that organizations should focus on finding the "gems" big data has to offer, which can serve "any of several critical roles," such as:

– Improving operational system efficiencies.

– Boosting fraud prevention for IT security.

– Enhancing marketing campaigns, primarily through its ability to measure relationships with consumers

"Big data is about having an understanding of what your relationship is with the people who are most important to you and an awareness of the potential in that relationship," Rospars told Co.Create. 

A lot of companies are focused on using data analysis tools to gain insights into recently produced information, but Kobielus believes that isn't always necessary. He noted that organizations can benefit tremendously by delving into their archives – a sentiment supported by Rospars, who advocated "being smart about the data we had all along."

From a marketing standpoint, there's plenty of useful information that's already archived or available – purchasing history, advertising ROI numbers, consumer searches and so on. With the help of big data analytics, marketing teams can take that data, analyze it and gain unprecedented insights into the relationship between the company and its customers. 

But Rospars stressed that tools are not a be-all, end-all miracle worker. Instead, he emphasized that the tools are part of a larger enterprise goal, which needs to be defined beforehand. Once decision-makers have outlined what they want to use big data to accomplish, it becomes a lot easier to achieve those results. 

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