Big Data: The (Not So) Secret Ingredient to Better Business?

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Big Data is all the rage in the workplace, with the phrase being one of the most talked about and hyped up topics in the technology and business world today. But how companies use the data generated, monitor the data at their fingertips and analyse it successfully is quite another matter.

So how does Big Data enable companies to make better decisions and become more efficient? How can businesses use Big Data to drive better sales and growth? And how can businesses monitor data to increase traffic?

Data Driven Success

In today’s ever changing technological landscape, the way businesses analyse data relating to their relative success and growth over a period of time depends on a number of variables. Each company is unique and they can interpret data differently.

However, what is becoming more and more accepted in the business world is that Big Data drives organisational decisions. In fact, according to a recent survey led by the Economic Intelligence Unit, 75 per cent felt that their organisation was driven by data. That’s a substantial amount.

Additionally, in a PricewaterhouseCooper survey, 64 per cent of the executives polled felt that the emergence of Big Data has altered their decision making process. These two statistics reveal that Big Data is having an ever increasing impact on business decisions.

Right calls make money

For so many executives, however, making the right call is becoming a crucial part of their job. This is simply because of the rapidly changing state of play as the businesses become global and decisions are made off data released by companies. In fact, according to a recent survey carried out by SAS, in conjunction with the Harvard Business Review, 74 per cent of managers “feel under pressure to achieve the right results in less time than before”.

In the same survey, three quarters of businesses relied on data to make decisions today with two fifths (40 per cent) of survey respondents believing that the analytics they undertook improved their understanding of specific areas.

There is always the threat of companies making judgment calls using their “guts”. However, as the data becomes more prevalent and useful, experienced managers are finding it increasingly more difficult to ignore. One such person is Michael Pierce, the customer service manager at Bosch Security, who states that he always goes with data analysis first.

“Personally, I run with analysis first, and during the research I will listen to my intuition. When my gut does not agree with my decision — and all analytics show it is the correct one — I pay closer attention to the results,” he said.

But it’s not always so simple. Even though data has had a few wins over the traditional managerial ‘hunch’ (see the Moneyball example mentioned in our previous post or the overhaul digitalisation of the music industry), a lot of industries and executives still rely on intuition to make an important decision (such as the interview process, for instance).’The hunch can be useful as long as it is educated’*. Combined with data, instincts can counterbalance positively the over-quantification of decision making.

Perfecting decision making

According to leading consumer company Procter and Gamble, Big Data and the analysis of it, has increased the speed at which decisions are made. According to Filippo Passerini, CIO for the company, “analytics accelerates our decisions because everyone is now looking at the same reality.

“Decisions come down to ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘how’. Many organisations spent a lot of time debating the ‘what’ because different people had different data. Once everyone has the same version of truth, you can shift to the ‘how’ — and you are able to do more and more, better and better,” he said.

Analysing your way to mega bucks

With the sheer volume and amount of data, opportunities for businesses now lie in the real time analysis of data. ‘The most valuable data will be that which is collected and analyzed during the customer interaction, not the review afterward,’ says Charles Babcock, editor for InformationWeek. This allows business leaders to make instant decisions when they matter the most. This means a company can not only be reactive but also proactive thanks to the continuous processing of data ‘on the spot’, displaying alerts and live dashboards over data from a multitude of applications and devices.

Like any digitally connected device, your network produces data as well. And that data, although not as much in the spotlight, is crucial. In a report by Analysys Mason, the leading global specialist adviser in TMT, the author writes: ‘Real-time network analytics provides decision makers with information on how resources are being used, their ability to meet capacity demands, and trends that are developing in the customer base that can support the launch and marketing of new types of service. Advances in computing power, drastic reductions in storage cost, in-line session analysis and improvements in data visualization have all combined to make real-time analytics a reality. The days of generating business reports on activity that occurred last month are gone, and have been replaced by the capture and analysis of trends and patterns in a day, an hour or, in some cases, minutes.’

Monitoring network data can also help to ‘quickly detect issues such as bandwidth constraints, service outages, threats against their networks.’

Considering how much new technologies rely on the network - today and in the years to come -  (think Internet of Things, location-based services, social networking, mobile commerce …), monitoring, processing and exploiting that data in real time can make the difference between success and failure.   

To analyse the data, network monitoring applications are essential to help executives decide where best to utilise their resources. It helps companies work out their most critical applications but also identify ways to future proof the company in terms of resource allocation. It’s an essential tool to process the data efficiently to support timely business decisions. This is where hSo’s new solution, the GTFLow™ Advanced Network Monitoring comes into play, allowing decisions to be made real time so that your company can stay ahead of the game.

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