Why You Have To Make Big Data Every Department’s Business

Why You Have To Make Big Data Every Department's Business
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If you’re in an IT department, then you know in theory how important big data is. But it’s time to move beyond concept and into practice. Big data is more than large masses of data that some company analyst will want to dissect to find subtle improvement in operations or finance. It’s a set of tools and capabilities that will affect virtually every part of how a business runs.

The combination of hidden relationships among aspects of a business and predictive analytics to reduce risk and improve performance is powerful. For example, companies in the industrial sectors will find that using specialty software on data coming from sensors in devices or monitoring processes, the so-called Internet of Things, will become critical, according to a recent study from GE and Accenture. Eighty-nine percent of respondents to their survey said that companies that fail to adopt big data analytics would risk losing market share and momentum, while 84 percent said that big data had the potential to “shift the competitive landscape for their industry in the next year.”

But big data isn’t useful only for a manufacturer. ABC has used it over the last four years to improve the network’s iPad app, according to Variety. By looking at data from actual use, product marketers and engineers changed features. For example, users can connect their Facebook and Twitter accounts to the app so they can share comments on what they are watching. A new function lets them quickly share clips or even entire programs. A multiple camera option will let viewers get more behind-the-scenes content from live events.

Product designers from all manner of industries, including pharmaceuticals and automotive, also make use of big data, according to an IBM executive. Once, designers and consultants were limited to literally following test users around to see how they interacted with products. Although big data doesn’t replace that activity, it is a supplement that lets professionals know what large numbers of users are doing, not just the handful they see.

Even organizational structure is a potential beneficiary. Brown University’s engineering school considered moving to a new off-campus space or improving its current facilities. A data analysis showed that different communities within the university interacted in ways that benefited all. Moving the engineering school off campus “would negatively affect students, faculty collaboration and research dollars.”

CFOs can potentially use big data to improve forecasting and budgeting. Marketing departments have been one of the obvious and classic targets for use of big data. Practically speaking, that means IT departments must take an expansive view of big data. You have to assume that virtually any department, or employee, could be a user, which has implications for implementations, resources allocation, and training.