The Big Data Goldmine

If you’ve been anywhere but under a rock over the past ten years, you’ve likely heard the term Big Data. But what is it really and why should you care? In short, Big Data is arguably the most crucial and misunderstood factor informing (or misinforming) your business. Ignore it and your business could die. Misuse it, and your business could die faster.  

The Analogy

Here’s an analogy: You love shoes. Initially, shoes are expensive, so you save for the ultimate shoe goldmine – a pair of Jimmy Choos. As shoes become less expensive you add more—pair after glorious pair—each with a unique style, function and purpose. Soon, the mountain of shoes is so big you can never find the pair you need, at the right time, for the right event. Then reality hits: you are drowning in shoes. The worst part is, you know that Jimmy Choo goldmine is somewhere in the mountain, but you’ve lost it.  

Big Data is a lot like that mountain of shoes. In the beginning it came with high storage costs. Over time, those costs decreased faster than the rate of processing. This resulted in a mountain of data that despite being stored was not being analyzed or understood. Companies are now realizing that Big Data holds a wealth of information. And this can harness to transform their business and drive growth. The biggest challenge they face is scaling this massive collection of unique and often conflicting information for logical connections – or in other words, finding the goldmine.      

So what is the solution?

To solve this challenge, data needs to be analyzed by connecting rich data sources, known as ‘Connected Data’ (information about sales, transactions, client satisfaction, demographics, margin, etc.), to produce actionable business insight. The goal is to aggregate the right data through the right platform to make it accessible and transparent. 

Once you’ve identified key pillars, you can cross-reference your internal data against external data sets to gain valuable information about trends. For example, understanding what’s driving consumer spending and in which markets can help you project potential areas of growth.  

The best way to leverage this data for decision-making is to use a ‘test and learn’ approach. This concept has been used in the medical field for many years. It provides an opportunity to test new initiatives in a subset before rolling them out on a larger scale. In terms of Big Data, richer data sets will elicit the most granular, in-depth insights using a test and learn environment. The major benefit of this type of analysis comes in the ability to truly grasp the impact of an idea, and how and where it should be implemented, before execution. 

So what’s the cost of managing Big Data, today? While the majority of companies are investing more time and money into this area, few are doing it right. The time spent finding the right SaaS partner should be your first investment. Errors in execution can cost your business a lot more than money – plan for less ‘if at first you don’t succeed’ and more ‘do it right the first time’. Cost is relative to value, and when it comes to Big Data, finding that Jimmy Choo goldmine is priceless.