Every second of every day, the world of big data gets bigger. Google searches, site analytics, keywords and trends on social media, anonymized software usage reports, and thousands of other data sources quantify and describe the world, offering an unprecedented ability to interpret behavior. Even the White House has invested more than $200 million in big data initiatives. But no matter how fertile a field big data can be, it won’t bear fruit unless C-level executives know how to bring it to bear within their organizations.
In a recent survey by Capgemini, fewer than 1/3 of executives described big data initiatives at their companies as successful. Deploying big data in a constructive way is a challenge, and here are the most effective ways to turn that challenge into opportunity:
Prioritize Data Initiatives
Data may touch every aspect of a company, but certain areas will benefit disproportionately from it. Instead of looking to revolutionize every process at once, executives should identify where their largest gains can be made. Data can be deployed to:
- Illuminate and refine customer interactions
- Increase internal efficiency
- Cut costs
- Minimize waste in materials or time
- Accelerate growth
- Improve productivity
- Address any number of other concerns
Identifying what need will deliver the biggest return on investment is a key place to start when designing a data initiative.
Aim for Across-the-Board Evolution
While focusing on the biggest areas of impact, executives who want to transform their companies also need to keep in mind that this is a transformation. Less thanhalf of one percent of all data generated is ever analyzed and used – so what does that mean for a company’s departments?
Businesses need to build data gathering, processing, evaluation, and data-based action into their operations at every level. Data is a powerful steering tool, but it doesn’t have be be wielded exclusively by management positions. Improving departmental access to data is important.
Lead from a Position of Understanding Big Data
From C-level executives to senior roles within departments, leaders need to understand the potential benefits of data analysis and commit to acting on information gained from analyzing data. Risk aversion should be acknowledged, and mitigated through well-designed tests and awareness of business metrics.
Performance metrics need to be reviewed, evaluated, and understood by all leadership positions within the company. And if the available data doesn’t illuminate those metrics, new methods of acquiring data may need to be put in place. When data-driven decisions are being made, all stakeholders need to be accounted for in the decision-making process.
Don’t Neglect the Soft Skills
It’s tempting to see big data as a hard technology – one that delivers absolute answers. But the culture and leadership side of deploying big data can’t be ignored. Moving to a data-driven culture is absolutely a test of leadership skills, goal-setting, accountability, access to resources for learning and growth, and recognizing the accomplishments of a team. CEO and CTO buy-in is essential from an early stage, as is a corporate atmosphere which encourages productive change.
To learn more about how big data can be successfully applied at your organization, contact eXemplify.