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BLOG: Big Data's reluctant forty percent

Jeff Morris, vice president of product marketing for Actuate | April 8, 2013
There are legitimate reasons for caution, but delay has a very high price

All in all, it's clear that understanding customers is the major motivation for these first-adopters. And this underlines a related point: maybe these pioneer started with the problem(s) Big Data analysis is intended to solve, rather than building Big Data architecture for architecture's sake before deciding what to do with it. It's well worth always reminding yourself that the big problem with Big Data is not where you put it. Instead, start by asking "What do I want to get out of my data? What problem am I trying to solve?"

In other words use that tried and true standard: Start with the business goal always uppermost in your team's mind.

Organisations far-sighted enough to become early adopters for Big Data clearly recognise the enormous business opportunity attached to understanding their customers better. Of course, they are not going to be in a position to ever 'read our minds' as customers.

But the intelligence there to be gleaned about a specific individual from their purchasing behaviour, likes, interests, allied to an ability to match their profile to similar profiles from social networking sites, search engines or interest-specific social sites, as well as to mine sentiments gleaned from Facebook likes, positive Tweets, Yelp reviews and so on, will give these Big Data converts knowledge that will be deep, targeted and useful.

As a result, businesses will be able to be truly smart - able to predict their customer's needs and make more appealing offers for products or services we really want to buy. This is a huge and welcome leap, and why underneath all the hype and froth Big Data is a Big Deal. But we need to get that Reluctant 40% back on board.

A factor that should be addressed is that some organisations are hesitating because they don't yet feel Big Data is relevant to them. Vendors are having difficulty identifying successes. Competitive advantage is why.

Success with customer behaviour analysis can make such a huge difference that those who are indeed succeeding are withholding this secret from the rest of us. We have seen this for years in the Financial Services space; customers are very reluctant to reveal how they succeed with technology that makes a difference, precisely because they are succeeding!

The post 2007 slow economic recovery makes big corporate budget commitments difficult for the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, business leaders and senior managers must grasp the Big Data opportunity. We are saying to The Reluctant 40% that any perceived Big Data skills gap will be short-lived. Meanwhile, there are many useful tools that could help with any Big Data mission, easily offsetting any upfront costs of development.

Where there's a will, if backed up by enough management support and leadership, there's definitely a way. We need to get the laggard 40% back on the Big Data path- lest they face the risk of real business collapse through being too unfocused on Big Data and what it represents.


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