When it comes to big data, it’s not uncommon to get so caught up with individual figures that you lose sight of the big picture. Often businesses get overwhelmed with the idea of ‘big data’ by trying to look at the data individually, rather than what the data is saying. According to IDC Research, total global revenue for Big Data and Business Analytics will reach $203 billion by 2020. With such a significant growth predicted, it is essential businesses understand how to truly leverage data analysis to create tangible insights, results, and meaningful return on investment.
For businesses, the true value of data analytics comes from the answers and insights that emerge throughout the analysis process. Think of it as zooming out from within trees to a satellite view of a forest. You begin under the canopy, seeing the trees, as many individual, isolated plants. This is your raw, unprocessed data comprised of text and figures both qualitative and quantitative.
Zoom out to a bird’s eye view just above the tree tops, and all of a sudden you see the forest. This is your information. It’s the statistics, figures and visual reports that tell you what the data means. It’s information such as total expenditure, customer satisfaction ratings, delivery statistics, return rates, client numbers and geographical information.
Zoom out again to a satellite view and suddenly you have context of where the forest is, what shape it is, how large it is, what defining geographical features are within it, and how elements are affecting each other. This is your insight. Insight is what comes of analysing information in the context of a whole, finding correlations and relationships between different pieces of information that provide answers and direction for improvement.
The Value of Actionable Insights
Big data has become so integral to business planning a 2015 estimate from IDC indicated 70% of all global enterprises purchase external data, and use third party data in their business models.
For businesses, the value of data analysis lies in the actionable insights that come from looking at data information in context. While your big data analysis may come up with many insights, the actionable insights are those most closely aligned with your business goals. These actionable insights can have significant impact on your growth, efficiency, customer service and profits.
The businesses that achieve the best results from data analysis have a clear idea of what their short term and long term business goals are, and thus can better understand what their analytical needs are.
Insights in Practice
Take an example given by Digitalist Magazine whereby a hospital group wanted to cut their costs but also improve patient outcomes. Instead of using isolated cost figures for, say, supplies, they considered multiple pieces of information including time spent in operating theatres, patient records, return visits, equipment used during surgery, and related costs. By comparing these data points with information on different surgeons and different locations, the hospital not only improved patient outcomes, they were also able to standardise best practices, and deliver service at a 60% cost reduction.
This example demonstrates just some of the improvements and progress that can result from innovative and effective use of analysis. A report titled ‘Big Data Analytics: A New View of Big Data’ breaks down the most consistent benefits of actionable insights in the communications service provider industry into six categories:
Benefits of Insights
While this report focuses on CSPs, the breakdown is consistent across all industries with slight variation in user/customer satisfaction/ and client/patient outcomes.
Embracing a data driven culture to produce growth
Building on these growth segments, enterprises around the world are now embracing data to create what is termed as a ‘data-driven’ culture. According to the Harvard Business Review, 80.7% of Fortune 1000 executives surveyed characterised their big data investments as successful. Of those surveyed who had implemented projects informed by big data, 67.7% had seen a decrease in expenses and 68.6% found new innovation avenues.
Creating room to evolve into a data-driven enterprise is essential in modern enterprise, and perhaps even more important is having the right tools and support. Many businesses that have tried to move into a data-driven space get lost in data overload and are unable to identify actionable insights. The problem generally isn't the acquisition of data, but how to translate the data into something meaningful, such as insights which lead to informed actions.
For instance, Accenture reported that information workers waste 3.5 hours per week on searches that don't yield useful information. While this number might not seem large, a company which employs 1,000 information workers with an average salary of $60,000, therefore loses $5.25 million per annum on counterproductive searches.
This is where using specialised data analysis platforms is essential to creating great ROI and ensuring your business resources and time aren’t wasted focusing on misleading or irrelevant data.
The Holy Grail of Automatic Actionable Insights
The goal of any analytic infrastructure is to tailor the tools to your individual analytical needs, so your analysis will provide automated results aligned to your business goals. This means you can avoid getting lost in a mess of lengthy data results, and be presented with immediately actionable insights with minimal support. Zetaris’ approach of on-boarding with automation gives business owners the ability to execute effective analytics without the need for a data specialist to interpret results. This means you can have immediate opportunities for growth and improvement backed by real data at your fingertips—truly the holy grail of business data.