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Moving beyond the hype with data-driven analytics

Rachel Wheeler Archive

"Big data" are two of the biggest words in business today. Everyone is obsessed with this idea of adding more value to their enterprises by collecting and analyzing large volumes of information.

But like with any major trend, there's an inevitable backlash, and when it comes to data, the counter-argument is this: What if it's all hype? What if all this talk about data is just fluff, and there's no real substance or value there?

If companies and their leading analytical thinkers merely think in platitudes, this will be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Data is useless unless business leaders are willing to think critically about what it really means. But this can be challenging.

Collecting bulk data is easier. With the growth of technology today, it's never been easier. But perhaps the trickiest part is taking all of that information and organizing it well to get real value of it. According to The Financial Brand, the problem is that with data in such rigid silos, it can be hard for companies to mobilize and use it together. Every department, from marketing to sales to consumer care, needs to communicate and share information for the company overall to be successful.

That's the thinking of financial industry strategist Jim Marous, who told the news source that synergy is the key to data-driven success.

"The biggest hurdle to moving beyond the big data hype is that most organizations' data tends to reside in silos, and as a result, we utilize data in these silos," Marous said. "When different components of available data are not working synergistically to give you the best answer or resolution, the customer experience is impacted. Today's customer lacks tolerance when you don't understand (and recognize) their entire relationship."

When it comes to "moving beyond the hype," there are a few key strategies that can set the savviest businesses apart.

Steering clear of risk
Whether you work in health care, finance, or any one of countless other industries, there are always risks when it comes to working with data. You may have errors in data quality that lead you astray. You might have information that's outdated. You could alienate people by violating their privacy with data mining. There are always worries. The key, though, is not to shy away from analytics completely - it's to devise prudent strategies for dodging any problems. The companies that best overcome their risks will be the ones that ultimately get ahead.

Filling in the gaps
Companies today are hoping to use data for giving them a variety of illuminating facts about each customer - their contact information, demographic data, shopping and spending habits, changing locations and more. When working with the modern customer, who often works quickly using a mobile device, you're sometimes stuck with incomplete bits of information. For companies looking to get past the hype and find real substance, it might be worthwhile to use data enhancement for adding more "meat" to their bare?bones collections of information.

Improving earnings to maximize ROI
One of the biggest questions that business leaders have about analytics is one of ROI. Like with any other corporate initiative, they want to know what kind of value they're getting back for the money they put in. That's why companies that delve into data should think critically, and early in the process, about how to ensure a return on for their analytics dollars. With a concrete plan that's put in place from the start, breaking even can be a realistic goal.

"Big data" has a lot of hype around it, but there's a good deal of substance, too. Savvy planning can uncover tangible benefits.