Big data and analytics are all the rage. But while these are important concepts for businesses of all sizes, they have no value if they are merely another addition to IT’s “to-do” list.

Gerald Naidoo, CEO of specialist systems integrator Logikal Consulting, says that big data and analytics must be made a central business tenet rather than seen as a technology addition to the business.
“Recent research has proved that embracing analytics as a core element of the functioning of a business makes all the difference.
“Nucleus research found that companies realise a 10 to one financial return on every analytics investment, and another research reported issued by IBM and MIT Sloan Management Review indicates that the performance gap between companies that fully embrace analytics and those that do not is growing wider every year. Making analytics a core aspect of your business can bring significant competitive advantage,” he says.

The reason lies in the nature of business today, he explains. In the current extremely competitive and fast-paced business environment, optimising the exchange of goods, services and information between organisations is the cornerstone of success.

And thanks to advances in technology, analytics can allow companies to leverage the data they collect in their day-to-day operations to achieve their goals. Those that don’t will fall further and further behind as their competitors react faster to changing environments and speed up their time to market.

“Today’s management techniques are based on information scarcity and the limitations this breeds, but analytics is changing how management makes decisions. Those companies that don’t leverage the opportunities this brings will not be able to measure, plan and act as fast as those that do, ultimately damaging their business,” Naidoo adds.

In this age of big data, where we create approximately 2,5-quintillion bytes of data every day, companies have access to only on operational data and customer demographics, but also on customer feedback, details in contracts and agreements, and other types of unstructured data or content. Managing all of this and using it to make decisions has become a business imperative.

“Predictive analytics makes it possible to use all of the data at your disposal to make the most effective decisions. Social media applications, such as IBM’s Cognos Consumer Insight, make it possible to analyse customer sentiment, product and brand associations, and emerging topics related to a company or industry.
“These things should not just be left up to IT to manage, but must become central to the operations of a company,” says Naidoo.

However, according to research results, most companies still haven’t developed or implemented a big data strategy. The reasons cited in the research include not knowing enough about big data (21%), not understanding the benefits (15%), a lack of business support, or a lack of data quality in existing systems (9% each).

“Most companies are now starting to understand the technical opportunities offered by big data, but many struggle to apply them to their business. The biggest challenge in really getting value out of analytics is that the technology that can really bring out a competitive edge needs to be deeply embedded in the business and managed by business leaders, not IT,” Naidoo concludes.