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Big data strategy success starts when companies ask the right questions

Rachel Wheeler Archive
Now that big data is finally gaining traction with businesses as a way to make better decisions, many firms are left wondering how exactly to harness it to yield the best return on their investment. At this point, those investments might be huge, according to Forbes.

Corporations have invested millions into the big data tools they need to collect vast amounts of information that exists online, in their databases and through social media, the source reports. These tools are taking that information and filtering it through systems that organize it into data and rows, but that system is unlikely to reveal valuable decision-making insight unless the company started by asking the right questions.

Three questions to drive better use of analytics

One of the primary reasons companies struggle to pull the information they want out of big data is because they expect it will know the questions and generate answers, Forbes explains. Rather, big data will only produce answers when businesses have primed the system to answer key questions, such as:

- How well is the company doing?
- What drives business?
- What will work best to engage customers?

This process isn't just one that should be addressed by company heads, it should trickle down into every department, the source adds. Sales, marketing and financial teams should all ask these three questions before tapping into big data to ensure they are actually getting what they need out of it. At the very least, companies should ask all of these questions before they start collecting any more data.

Taking a structured approach to big data can help businesses compete

It's been predicted that 2012 could be the year big data crosses the threshold between holding vast potential and churning out valuable results. Many corporations are shifting  away from intuition-based decision-making to data-driven considerations.

Companies that successfully make this transition can gain a competitive advantage over others in their markets, according to Gulf Business. However, their ability to benefit from big data analytics relies heavily on the way they structure information, especially data that is multi-dimensional.

Another key to success is ensuring that the chosen structure is one that's accessible by all departments within the company. Governance can be used to ensure all divisions can tap into information that's organized in meaningful ways, verified for data quality and can help them answer those very basic questions, explains Data Center Dynamics.