Information has become one of the fundamental parts of a company. As the months go by, it is becoming increasingly clear that business intelligence (BI) and big data have earned the praise of IT leaders and that the hype is anything but empty. For example, the recent ZDNet TechLines conference found leading executives going on the record with their high hopes for big data and analytics, giving plausible cases for the transformational power of information going forward.
NASA's Nicholas Skytland used his time at the conference to explain that information has become an important and valuable part of corporate holdings. Equal in stature to a physical resource like oil, data can determine the leaders and stragglers in many fields. Data can come from outside sources, but firms typically do not need harness them to become an analytics leader. Most of the information necessary to excel can be found within those companies' own infrastructures.
"There's real value in being able to manage and understand your dataset," Skytland told the assembled crowd.
Skytland also agreed with Ford's Michael Cavaretta, who said that working with data is a viable field for workers going forward, one that companies will need to focus on in the future. Cavaretta detailed his own companies struggles to find employees with just the right blend of skills to approach big data archives and make them accessible. Updating analytics processes to suit the information at hand is vital.
The sheer amount and speed of big data may be mind-boggling, but actually using it to improve business results is fairly straightforward. Another panelist at the conference, T-Mobile executive Christine Twiford, stated that her company has been able to determine how customers behave on a massive scale and funnel that information into customized outreach and service options, improving the overall experience.
Big data's role as a powerful differentiator means many companies are likely to try analyzing it in the coming months. According to the Harvard Business Review, these new users should move into the technology slowly and steadily rather than all at once. The source stated that firms can examine huge volumes of information from varied sources in single processes, but that is not what they should do the first time out, instead focusing on determining the technology's potential with small pilot programs that apply to a tiny sliver of information.