Big data brings big value

Read time 2min 50sec

Big data is the new source of productivity, growth and competitive advantage, said Bill Hoggarth, MD of Dataways, who spoke at this morning's ITWeb BI Summit, at The Forum, in Bryanston.

Hoggarth said that while Gartner, Forrester and IDC analysts tout big data as one of the main business intelligence (BI) challenges in terms of complexity, volume and variation, business must have a need to do something valuable with that data.

“It doesn't matter how quickly big data is changing or how many formats it comes in; if business cannot derive value from that data, then there is no point in capturing and analysing this information.”

He explained that big data is unpredictable and too complicated for traditional datasets to process and manage: “The question is not how much big data is out there, but how much of it is useful.”

According to Hoggarth, the BI vendor market is seeing increasing financial value, rising to $46 billion for big data processing.

Hoggarth outlined two conflicting data principles: “The first fundamental principle is that better information leads to better business decisions, but the competing business principle is that you can't manage what you can't measure. It's better to be vaguely right than precisely wrong when it comes to information.”

He added: “Until big data came along, we weren't able to answer the question as to why a company's most profitable customers were leaving. A company needs to know who the most profitable customers are and what its competitors are doing. Then it has to take a query and search across different data sources.

“By focusing on the value of the big problem of big data and focusing on new interfaces such as the iPad, big data will be the new source of productivity, growth and competitive advantage.”

Hoggarth noted that the iPad has become a catalyst to focusing on the problem of big data. He said there are more iPads in SA than there are BI user licences. In addition, he noted that user expectations for BI are being set by Google, in terms of speed of information access, and Apple, in terms of usability and design.

Hoggarth gave an example of how state police in the US are using high-tech mobile forensic devices to draw in cellphone data from users in under two minutes during roadblocks. The technology is used to conduct warrantless searches without phone owners knowing that their data is being extracted by authorities.

McKinsey identified five key areas where big data can create value - by creating transparency, enabling experimentation to discover needs, segmenting populations to customer actions, replacing supportive human decision-making with automated algorithms, and innovating new business models.

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