A very timely article recently appeared in Forbes that focused on several issues that may hold back big data from contributing to the bottom line in the near term, How Soon Will Big Data Yield Big Profits? This topic is on the mind of many companies in the process of moving into big data technology solutions or contemplating such a move. Due to the hype and spin in this growing industry, many companies and executives rushing into data collection and analysis expecting immediate payoffs are bound to be disappointed. Most companies are years away from being able to effectively profit from data—and not for a lack of available technology—the technology is there and waiting. Instead, a number of entrenched challenges need to be addressed before big data can have real impact to the bottom line.
- Gut-driven approach to strategy, or leadership by the highest paid person in the organization, is often the way companies are run. Big data will provide an alternative method using analytics to drive decision making. Unfortunately, it is the same gut-driven mentality that may sink the scientific approach in the long run. A company has to prepare itself for making more informed decisions based on data assets.
- The talent shortage in the big data arena may limit how well data science can be adopted across the corporate spectrum, at least in the near term. Many traditional universities and new education startups are working feverishly to train the next generation of people with the necessary skills to make rigorous use of data.
- Knowing what to do with the data once you have it is critical. It is up to the data science group to communicate actionable business knowledge to the C suite in order to capitalize on valuable data assets. It is not just a matter of collecting more an more data. This is why hiring the right people is so important. You must separate the signal from the noise in the data you’re collecting and only trained minds can do this.
As the Forbes article eloquently articulates, big data holds much promise, but only if its prerequisites are managed properly:
Big data carries a huge promise. But we need to embrace a belief in the importance of data and incorporate it into every stage of planning and at every level of the organization. Mastering small data is not an alternative to utilizing Big Data; it’s a prerequisite. The emphasis needs to shift to the use of more manageable data, more regularly, by more people. Then businesses will be poised to take actions based on data. Only then will the dream of Big Data become real.