Competing With Data & Analytics
I was having lunch recently with the editor of a leading business publication, when I was asked, “Don’t you see a backlash against ‘big data’? Aren’t people growing tired of hearing about it?”
This seemed a fair question, given the sheer volume of articles and media coverage on the topic of big data during the past three years. But my response was a resounding, “No!”
During the summer of 2013, NewVantage Partners conducted a survey of Fortune 1000 C-suite executives from companies including American Express, CVS Caremark, JP Morgan, Johnson & Johnson, Kaiser Permanente, MetLife, Travelers and Wells Fargo, among others.
Our survey found that 91% of executives indicated that they have a big data initiative planned or in progress, with 60% reporting having an initiative completed.
Let’s consider three reasons why big data is becoming part of the mainstream now.
1. Big data is about all data, not just social media, unstructured or massive data.
I’m sometimes told by senior corporate executives that they don’t have a big data need because they are not focusing on social media data, unstructured data or massive data sets. This is a common misconception about big data. While much of the talk about big data focuses on the benefits and opportunities that result from new sources of data — including social media, sensor and visual data — most of the action among mainstream corporations is focused on integrating information from traditional legacy environments, like COBOL and mainframe data sources.
Integration of legacy data remains one of the main challenges for most corporations born before the digital era. When asked what kinds of data corporations planned to integrate using big data capabilities, most respondents to our survey responded that their focus was on customer transaction and financial data. For corporations, the ultimate ability to link behavioral, transaction and customer interaction data provides insight into the relationships between what customers say and what they do.
Similarly, big data is not exclusively about massive data sets. It is often assumed that big data is exclusively about capturing very large volumes of data. But big data is also about integrating more sources (“variety”) of data, which needn’t be massive. As Babson College’s Tom Davenport states in a