Written by William Bulteel
Posted on 09/01/2015

Optimising your Big Data decisions

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“Traditional ways to deal with information are painfully slow in comparison to "viewing the big picture." Those who survive information overload will be those who search for information with broadband thinking but apply it with a single-minded focus.” 

― Kathryn Alesandrini, 


Big data epidemic

Recently it seems you can’t log on to Linked in or Twitter without reading the words “ Big data “. It’s the number one hot topic in every industry and data providers are clamouring to have people use their services. It’s a veritable free for all of information and at times it can seem difficult to tell one from the other. So what should big data look like when it’s working for you? What processes can be put into place when making your decision to make sure your company can utilise all of the available information? 

Separate the sources

This might seem like a strange suggestion. One of the main purposes of big data is to give you access to more information than you could have looked at before. It links together intelligence from such a wide range of places that it might seem impossible to differentiate the individual sources. However, you know your business better than anyone. You know what data you need to keep your company protected and in the know. Make note of the key areas you need to focus on and then insure that they are included into your system. It’s not just a case that the more Data and characteristics you view the more aware you are. If the data isn’t relevant then it will be of no use. By making a prior decision to target certain sources you can be certain your data is working for you.

Stay up to date

It would be pointless having hundreds of specific data sources if they aren’t being delivered on time. It’s a well-known fact in business that what is true today may not be true tomorrow. Big data gives you a cornucopia of new information so it needs to be updating regularly if not dynamically. If it’s sitting around waiting for a daily data dump then it’s completely useless. As John Burn Murdoch notably said in the Guardian “ data-centric companies seeking to gain a competitive edge have marked out velocity as the new battleground.” Speed of information is clearly an integral part into making big data compatible for you and your company.

Software is key

This one is fairly obvious. With over 8 Million companies in the UK one of the most important things to clarify is how the data is being processed. The Algorithms and Analysis software being offered today can give us the chance to view far more information than ever before. However, if the software isn’t capable of dealing with the levels of data you require then its practicality is greatly diminished. Check the software carefully. What patterns, trends and associations can it recognise? How often is the Algorithm audited and what impact will this have on your business? 

Another important factor is what happens when discrepancies are noticed. Does the information just go straight out or will a team of analysts then start to dig deeper? It’s another example where just having the data is not enough. Sometimes an expert will be needed to interpret the available information and correlate it to your businesses specific requirements.

Share it out

The previous three sections have focused on making sure the data is correct and tailored for you. So what do you do with it now? A lot of big data is tailored for specific departments but in truth it can be shared among a company to benefit all areas. If a Finance department sees that a specific industry has had a recent boost then the sales team can focus on it and bring in more business. If procurement find out detrimental intelligence about a supplier then it’s likely that Account managers should know not to have them as clients. By focusing on big data as an all-embracing part of your company's infrastructure you can utilise the information to its maximum potential.

Put it together

There are other things that we can look at of course but these four lay a foundation where we can start to see real differences. With a more critical selection process businesses can gain security and peace of mind with the knowledge that the data they rely on has been not been chosen on price, presentation or sheer volume. It was chosen because it has been tailored to their specific needs and will be assisting growth over the coming years.


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