Big data is changing the way we do business. Its adoption is rising rapidly as organisations seek to unlock the value of data analytics. Yet large amounts of data have been available for decades. So what sets ‘big data’ apart? Primarily, it is the velocity, variety and volume of data now available to us. Due to increases in processing power, we can now go beyond the data to extract insights that would have been hidden to us in the past. Big data isn’t new, it’s just more powerful than ever before.
Today, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day. That means it would take only three days to generate as many bytes of data as the number of grains of sand in the world. And estimates suggest that this figure will grow exponentially. By 2020, there could be 44 times as much data as in 2009. Although the sweet spot of big data varies for each organisation, every sector stands to benefit. From increased customer satisfaction to faster business processes, the rewards from are by no means small, and future investment is expected to be significant. Analyst firm Gartner has revealed that more than three-quarters of companies are investing or planning to invest in big data in the next two years, a three percent increase on 2014.
Although the amount of data flowing through each business differs, the message behind these numbers is that the scale of data is growing. The increasing sophistication of analytics platforms combined with the growth of data from social media, mobile apps, and the internet of things offers organisations a glimpse into the future unlike ever before.
From such insights, organisations are able to become more responsive. The ability to operate at greater speeds was one of the biggest drivers of big data investment in 2016, according to NewVantage Partners. When it comes to enterprise technology, in particular, one of the biggest benefits that big data brings to the table is that it offers businesses the opportunity to process large amounts of data and then extract insights that go beyond this data. One central way of improving speed in a business, for instance, is to prevent breakdowns and avoid time-outs. Whereas previously, enterprises would have to wait until it was too late when a tech issue arose, those equipped with intelligent, data-driven devices can identify problems for preventative action before the device fails. Businesses are discovering that with big data they can move from responding to their devices’ behaviour to shaping it.
This dramatically improves the experience of the businesses that use this technology. And forward-thinking organisations are overwhelmingly making this the primary focus of their big data projects. According to a recent survey by Gartner, 64 percent of large organisations are putting the customer experience at the forefront of their big data strategy. This is because improving the customer experience directly impacts brand loyalty and can transform a consumer into a brand advocate. The consequent effects on the bottom line can be substantial – and it all starts by taking a smart approach to big data.
Potentially the most significant change enabled by big data is the move from reactive to proactive service strategies by using data analytics. And with the digital revolution, there is no asset more significant to an organisation than its technology. According to a recent study, ‘keeping IT equipment well-maintained’ was a top concern of technology influencers (at 50 percent), whilst ‘monitoring budget and costs’ (at 48 percent) ranked highly as well. Solving IT issues, such as a printer breakdown, is therefore an area where big data can make a big difference. One solution, Lexmark’s Predictive Service, uses data analytics to prevent printer failure and enable customers to have an “always on” print environment. Its analytics engine monitors and analyses over 100 data points from sensors in each device to take preventative action and fix potential issues before they occur. This is just one example of how applying big data to everyday technology can boost productivity, drive profit and keep organisations free from disruption.
The growth of big data is changing the face of modern business. But it’s what companies do with it that matters. Now that organisations around the world have begun to use data analytics to enhance the customer experience, the stakes for getting it right, and continually improving it, have never been higher. In a global race, increasingly dominated by the fastest players, big data is increasingly the key to building a more agile, responsive and productive business.
By Nathan Nayagar