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Big Data: Just The Facts

 

Big data means a lot of things to a lot people. And that’s created a fair amount of fear, uncertainty, and doubt among those charged with managing it. The facts? As I recently uncovered in the course of writing a report on big data and the promise that it holds:

  • Data types are growing exponentially. Sensors will soon be everywhere. Google Glass, Nest thermostats, Nike Fitbits, and tattoos that listen to your heartbeat are just the beginning. Anything that is sensed is quantifiable, subject to measurement, and then managed for results. And soon it will all be sensed – from stressed out jet engines and bridge spans, to the temperatures of train wheels or the milk in your fridge, to the pitch of your voice in teams and the angle of your head with customers.
  • Data can overwhelm – or be mastered and conquered. With new haystacks all around, needles are still few. With change moving fast, planning is hard. Conflict over what to do next, and confusion on how, can rule.  Data, mastered, can disintermediate firms and their customers, and disrupt markets – or speed new products and services to markets.
  • Today, it’s all about predicting the future.  The past that matters most now is from a moment ago. When consumer product managers at Unilever or Procter Gamble add “in-the-moment” demand signal data to historic trends, they predict store stock-outs with stunning new accuracy. Across all sectors managers can now see better, further, sooner – and intervene earlier, shifting trajectories of events and shaping markets to advantage.
  • The customer is super-empowered and operates in multiple channels. Choice and switching abound. Best-in-class firms pursue customers in every channel at once.  At FT, readers get what they want, where they want it, when, and how. “You paid for it – you decide how you want to read it,” Rob Grimshaw, FT’s managing director said. “The reader is king in this now. Our job: just do the plumbing.”
  • Sentiment is the new demand signal – and it moves fast.  Social and mobile platforms expose customer, partner, andpetitor sentiment. Virality is a fact of life – for better and worse, amplifying sentiment so that it spreads to millions fast.
  • The convergence of social and transaction data at work creates new insight – and new power to convert sales prospects to customers, connect artists to audiences, switch sources in supply chains, and rinse out touches, delays, and costs from logistics networks.

What does all of this mean for business?  What are the costs of ignoring data’s promise?  And what advantages dopanies that make it a priority stand to gain?  Check back for my next post to find out.

 
 
 

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