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Knowing what you need underscores big data success

Teresa Leung | Aug. 7, 2013
While big data is forecast by Gartner to drive US$34 billion of IT spending in 2013 and create 4.4 million IT jobs worldwide by 2015, its deployment requires painstaking planning and clear strategies to be successful.

One example is the use of data for understanding and predicting trends of infectious disease. According to SAS, the Center for Health Protection under the Department of Health of the HKSAR government is now implementing SAS fraud framework and text analytics for that purpose.

"These are similar to tools used by financial institutions in fraud detection and prediction," Lam said.

2. Big data is all about analytics

Analytics is one part of big data, essentially the end-goal. Companies need to first figure out how to store, manage, archive, and retrieve data. But often all this gets buried under the fancy tag of 'analytics'. Big data can get out of control quickly since discovering value from a slice of data makes you greedy for more data.

Big data can get too complex too fast. The key is to keep big data small and reasonable, and figure out how to manage it before analyzing it.

3. The biggest benefit of big data: better customer service

The most compelling cases of big data have come from companies that have used it to improve customer service. But Gartner has found that this isn't the biggest benefit derived from big data.

"When we asked some of the largest enterprises about the benefits they wanted to derive from big data, process efficiency topped the list. This was followed by identifying areas of security risk, and finding new areas of customer satisfaction," said Sid Deshpande, senior research analyst at Gartner.

4. Big data is an IT project

Big data can't directly impact the bottom line, but it provides intelligence which the business needs to act on to derive successful business outcomes. Which is why it can't be bracketed as an IT project. "If you deal with big data as an IT project, then it is destined to fail," said Michael Chui, principal, McKinsey Global Institute.

Srinivas Peddada, CIO of India-based SKS Microfinance, agrees. "That's the base note. If your business is not on your side for a big data project, it becomes an IT project and it all goes downhill from there," he said.

5. Big data is a huge initiative

It doesn't have to be. Nat Malupillai, director, digital analytics, Target India, and Manish Bahl, VP and country manager, Forrester India, said CIOs should not get bogged down by big data. CIOs who aren't sure about how to embrace big data, or are skeptical about investing in it can always start small.

To begin with, CIOs can pick a small set of data (say 10-20%)—be it structured or unstructured—and use the service of a data analysis firm to analyze that data, Malupillai noted.

Additional reporting by IDGNS


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