Big business has been investing big in Big Data initiatives. But, to what end? A recently released Big Data executive survey, published by my firm, reports that nearly two-thirds of participating executives indicate that a Big Data initiative is in production at their firms. Yet, many of these investments have yet to produce tangible business results and benefits. I have been a strong proponent of Big Data, making the case that Big Data approaches are transforming business processes, by putting data into the hands of business decision-makers sooner, by creating more agile environments that are conducive to discovery and rapid learning, and by eliminating obstacles to bringing new products and services to market quickly.
So, why is there a lag between Big Data investments and Big Data results? There are notable exceptions of course. Firms including American Express, Capital One, General Electric, and JP Morgan Chase have invested heavily in Big Data capabilities, and have been able to introduce operational efficiencies as well as some new products and services. However, even these firms candidly admit that they are at the early stages of what they see as a long-term transformational journey that will be driven by Big Data. Within the life sciences world, a handful of firms have been investing and making headway in staging analytical sandbox environments that are driving discovery to improve patient treatment and outcomes in clinical areas such as oncology.
Most firms remain far behind these early innovators, in both the clarity and evolution of their thinking, as well as their plans for execution. While a majority of firms have made substantial investments in Big Data, fewer firms have shown that they have developed a vision for how they will derive business value over time from their Big Data investments. Having developed a Hadoop capability is one thing. Being able to tie these investments to ‘use cases’ or specific business initiatives remain a challenge for firms seeking to rationalize their data investments and deploy the “right platform for the right purpose”.
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Randy Bean is CEO and managing partner of consultancy NewVantage Partners. You can follow him at @RandyBeanNVP.