Big Data Sprucing Up Enterprise Decision Making

by CXOtoday News Desk    Sep 11, 2014

decision big data

Executives see tangible business outcomes from big data with a growing number of them believing that big data is changing the process of decision making in the enterprise. In a recent Accenture Digital study that is based on a survey of IT and business leaders from companies in 19 countries across seven industries, 89 percent of respondents rated big data as “extremely important” to their businesses’ digital transformation, and 82 percent agreed big data provides a significant source of value for their companies, aiding them in their decision making process.

“Businesses are at a transition point­­ where instead of just talking about the potential results that can be achieved from big data, they are realizing actual benefits including increasing revenues, a growing base of loyal customers, and more efficient operations,” said Narendra Mulani, senior managing director, Accenture Analytics, part of Accenture Digital. “They’re recognizing that big data is one of the cornerstones of digital transformation.”

For example, the survey finds out that using anonymized customer attributes and geo-location data from its Wi-Fi access points, a Japanese telecommunications provider offers consumer companies a platform to target promising customers with mobile advertisements in real-time. Also, a British utilities company processes data in real-time from sensors in water pipes to better anticipate equipment failures and respond faster to leaks and adverse weather events.

“Today, even the most basic items like water pipes can generate and provide data. While the Internet of Things is giving rise to massive sources and quantities of data, new big data technologies are emerging that help uncover crucial business insights from the data. Companies not implementing big data solutions are missing an opportunity to turn their data into an asset that drives business and a competitive advantage,” added Mulani.

Big Data Drives Business Benefits

According to the research, executives said their companies use big data moderately in various decision making process, such as to identify new sources of revenue (94 percent), retain and acquire customers (90 percent), and develop new products and services (89 percent).

This is also where the research indicates many enterprises are seeing big business impacts. Executives noted extensive tangible business outcomes from big data in finding new sources of revenue (56 percent), new product and service development (50 percent), winning and keeping customers (47 percent), and enhancing the customer experience (51 percent).

When asked where they expect big data to have the biggest impact on their organization in the next five years, 63 percent of executives said customer relationships, 58 percent mentioned “product development, and 56 percent said “operations”.

 Some Challenges Remain

While big data helps senior executives make better business decision, they have to face certain hurdles in the process. Security turns out to be the biggest of all challenges when implementing big data in their organizations, with more than half of the respondents noting this issues, apart from budget (47 percent); lack of talent to implement big data (41 percent) as well as maintenance and integration with existing systems (35 percent).

“We’ve seen organizations overcome big data implementation challenges by remaining flexible and recognizing that no single solution suits every situation,” said Vince Dell’Anno, managing director and global information management lead, Accenture Analytics. “If a particular approach doesn’t work, organizations quickly try another one, learning as they grow. They also start small and stay realistic in their expectations. Rather than attempting to do everything at once, they focus resources around proving value in one area, and then let the results cascade from there.” 

Helping Make better decisions 

For companies and executives to overcome big data challenges and get the most from their big data projects, the report outlines certain recommendations.

Decision makers must be nimble and explore the entire big data ecosystem. As data sources and big data technologies are in a constant state of flux, companies should learn to stay alert and be nimble to seize opportunities arising from the evolving technologies.

Secondly, rather than attempting to do everything at once, companies should focus resources around proving value from big data in one business area first via a pilot program or proof of concept, suggests the report.

Finally the study recommends senior executives to focus on building skills. While decision makers tout talent as a key big data challenge, organizations need to build the big data skills of existing employees through training and development. Fifty-four percent of executives said their companies have already developed internal technical training opportunities for their employees. This is a pertinent point as the study notes that a successful big data decision cannot happen without effective human involvement.