Harnessing Big Data for Informed Business Decisions

Big Data Infographic for blogWith expectations high for the value that can be delivered by ‘big data’, companies are investing in solutions that can turn those ambitions into realities – more customers, lower costs, less risk and more. A recent report from Gartner found that 64% of organizations surveyed have already purchased or are planning to invest in big data solutions in 2013, compared with 58% in 2012. Of that 64%, 30% have already invested in big data tech, 19% plan to invest within the next year and another 15% plan to invest within two years.

But are they using what they’ve built? Not so much: Less than 8% of Gartner’s 720 respondents, however, have actually deployed big data technology.  The reasons for the slow implementations are the usual ones I suspect: cultural barriers to applying analytics; internal feuding over who owns the data; lack of skills and internal disagreement of how to measure the ROI.

Before you invest in a big technology – or if you have already and need to put it to work – here are four basic rules that can help you get what you want.

Rule #1: Figure out what business challenge you are trying to solve with all this information. For example, do you want to:

  • Target your customer base more effectively?
  • Optimize retention strategies?
  • Understand where risk in your customer or supplier portfolio lies – and reduce it?

Rule #2: Tear down the silos of information to create a single source of truth about customers, prospects and suppliers.  One executive at D&B often talks about a company he’s worked with that has 140 different systems for collecting customer, sales and supplier information!? These disparate databases exacerbate the disconnects between departments and build obstacles to problem-solving and opportunity-capturing instead of accelerating both as intended.

Rule #3 Use what you already have. According to a ZDNet/D&B survey conducted of close to 600 organizations in early 2013, more than 75% track operational data from finance, ERP, CRM and other internal applications, while close to 45% track transactional data such as sales, queries, etc.  Odds are good that you already have a lot of insight into what you want to know. Applying rules #1 and #2 will help you get what you want out of it.

Rule #4 Integrate third party insight with your internal resources. The same survey found that less than 30% of respondents use data-as-a-service to enhance and validate their own information and add value to day-to-day business decisions. Odds are very good that your internal data is stagnant, and by augmenting internal information with external sources to ensure accuracy and relevance, you overcome the vulnerabilities caused by “dirty data.”

No matter what you are looking for from big data, these guideposts will help you navigate the selection, implementation and activation of your solution. You’ll get what you need much more quickly and less expensively, and with whole lot less aggravation—and isn’t that what breakthrough innovation is supposed to bring us?

(To see the full Informed Perspective infographic, click here.)

Posted in Big Data, Data Quality, Sales & Marketing by Lisa Petrucci

Lisa Petrucci is Vice President of Dun & Bradstreet Global Alliances and Partnerships.

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