by Stephanie Collis
Head of Marketing, Zetaris
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Big data is increasingly relevant to a range of industries, with sophisticated analytics infrastructures being built at companies across a diverse range of industries from sportswear to oil & gas, healthcare and entertainment. While it has broadened its appeal, those organisations outside the tech world that are taking the big data plunge are thoroughly in the minority, with many still considering it a non-issue.
This is a missed opportunity, as a carefully built and correctly managed big data analytics system can offer invaluable insights for any business in any industry, helping you make more informed and relevant decisions and moves in an increasingly agile and globalised market. In this article, we’ll attempt to demystify big data for businesses outside the tech world, explaining what benefits it can offer you and how you can integrate it seamlessly and effectively into your organisation.
Not a magic trick
Big data is useful to companies outside of Information and Communications Technology because every company needs data. While the phrase ‘data-driven business’ conjures up images of an agile, digital-only organisation that produces apps or hardware or online content, it’s a distinction without difference. Businesses have always needed to understand the topography of their market and the needs of their customers, and have deployed various strategies to help them achieve this goal. Seen through this lens, big data is just another tool the same vein as traditional market research. Obviously big data is a far more powerful tool, but they both fundamentally serve similar purposes – giving your business vision of the outside world.
It’s important to conceptualise big data in this way, as many businesses see it as some kind of arcane art that’s only available to tech organisations, leading more traditionally-minded decision-makers to label it as too hard or too complicated. Approaching it as a system that provides another way of knowing more about your customers is far more instructive. Going in with this idea not only gives you a far more realistic view of what a big data analytics system can achieve for your business – it also makes building it seem much more doable.
Connecting the dots
Often what drives non-tech companies to make the switch is a problem that their current infrastructure is simply not equipped to deal with on any level. One example can be seen in the case of RaceTrac Petroleum, a regional chain of automotive service stations across the southern United States. Speaking to SiliconANGLE, RaceTrac Petroleum VP of information systems Will Alexander said that the rollout of the big data system they used came from the desire to better manage and manipulate their data without interruption.
“We’re a 24/7 business. Our stores don’t close for the evening, so we have very small maintenance windows, so I’ve got to be able to perform maintenance-related activities during any time of the day without degrading service,” he said.
“[Thanks to our big data infrastructure] we reindexed one of our larger databases at midday. That was something that previously we would have done crossing our fingers at two in the morning on a weekend.
“It’s just brought a lot of efficiency to our team.”
Big data doesn’t have to play a supporting role in your business. Many non-tech organisations are discovering that an analytics infrastructure can be a whole and complete addition to your business, opening up new frontiers without disturbing your core activities, which may already be doing very well for you. These businesses are often finding ways to monetise their analytics infrastructure, allowing their customers access to enterprise-level insights.
One of the most high-profile pivots towards big data analytics has been in the sportswear industry. Pioneered by international corporations such as Nike, many sportswear companies have made the switch to offering data-driven products and services. Taking the form of everything from apps running on smartphones to specialised watches and bands to niche devices for individual sports such as weightlifting, swimming and long-distance running, the industry has well and truly embraced big data as a product.
Building a human-centric big data analytics infrastructure
Fundamentally, the way forward for non-tech industries looking to investigate big data is in making it as user-friendly and as streamlined as possible. Don’t silo away one of your most valuable tools inside an IT department – open up the power of big data analytics to your whole organisation. Zetaris makes it easy for every worker at every level of your company to leverage the power of big data, serving them highly relevant actionable insights on demand to help guide their decision-making.
If you’re interested in learning how big data could transform your business, book a demo with Zetaris today.