I know you’ve heard of Big Data. It’s a buzzword that gets thrown around a lot these days, but I find that people often have a misconstrued understanding of what it is and what it really means for the ever-changing business landscape in which we operate.
First, Big Data basically just means a set of data so large that traditional processing applications are inadequate to make it useful (1). It has grown out of the fact that there is more information available today than ever before—we leave a digital trail of bread crumbs behind us almost constantly and all of that adds up to, well, BIG DATA. According to IBM, we create 2.5 exabytes (quintillion bytes) of data every day (2). Too much to wrap our heads around.
In one sense, this massive resource is at our fingertips just waiting to be used in ways that we’ve yet to imagine. In another sense, it’s inaccessible because we don’t yet know how to deal with it all. One thing’s for sure, as we figure out how to make the most of this goldmine, it will cause a ripple of significant changes in all facets of business and beyond.
Before we know it, Big Data will affect all aspects of the business—not just Marketing and Customer Service. True, we will be able to market more effectively and treat our customers with a more personalized approach than ever before, but that’s not all. In fact, it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
I like how Gary King, director of Harvard’s Institute for Quantitative Social Science, put it, “The march of quantification, made possible by enormous new sources of data, will sweep through academia, business and government. There is no area that is going to be untouched.”
In other words, if you’re not prepared, you risk becoming obsolete. No matter your industry, position, or sector.
Strategies will be directed by more accurate predictive analytics and characterized by more confident decision-making. Making plans and goals based on gut feelings and human observations will be replaced with data-backed roadmaps. If you’ve seen the movie “Moneyball,” that’s a good example of using data to strategize in a way that doesn’t make immediate sense to human logic.
More and more of a businesses employees will require the skills to understand data and information at a sophisticated level in order to effectively do their jobs. Both companies and individuals need to be aware of this growing need—companies to stay relevant and individuals to stay employable.
People will be able to search for jobs and employees for candidates with more effective matching capabilities. “Whether you’re searching for the ideal position or sifting through candidates for the best and brightest talent, Big Data can be a game changer,” as said in this Accelerate-IT blog post.
Think about how Big Data will affect a company’s learning culture. We will be able to analyze more readily what skills are best learned in what types of environments, and what is really needed now and in the near future. We will be able to focus our time and investments to maximize training budgets and the usefulness of our collective expertise.
Those are just a few areas that come to the top of my mind that will be impacted by Big Data, but it’s far from an inclusive list. The horizon is exciting and filled with opportunity, but only those poised to take advantage of it and ready to live in a new world will reap the long-term benefits.
So how do you poise yourself? Well, if I knew the full answer to that I’d probably become a millionaire pretty quick, but I can list some important aspects that need consideration. Start thinking about these questions and making a plan to be ready for what comes (4):
- Where will you store the data and how will you manage it?
- How will you get your employees on board or hire the right people to use the information purposefully?
- How will you put changes into action once identified by your analytics?
Is your company doing anything specific to prepare for the Big Data Revolution? Are there any questions you would add to the above list?
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