Riding the waves of Big Data

Riding the waves of Big Data

BIG Data is increasingly becoming the next big thing for enterprises and firms

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BIG Data is increasingly becoming the next big thing for enterprises and firms thinking strategically about how they can get ahead of their competitors. From hiking productivity to better understanding customers' needs, SMEs are applying data and analytics (D&A) technology intelligently in enhancing their business decisions.

An avalanche of data, however, can lead to an information overload, especially if the data is presented in a raw and inaccessible format. Such data will be of little benefit to businesses if it is not translated into meaningful interpretations that can lead to improved performance.

For data to flourish and be put to good use, a holistic D&A technology implementation approach should be adopted. Aside from just having the facts and figures, companies should also include their business knowledge and data management experience in the process.

Here, we look at some of the ways to make it easier to deploy Big Data, using it as a stepping stone to increase your market share as you outmanoeuvre the competition.

Balancing the act of analytics integration

By assessing the usefulness of analytics and understanding how to apply them, SMEs can achieve real-time insight. They can then make better decisions and capitalise on new opportunities without any business disruption or waste of time.

Instead of only reacting to a problem that has occurred or after it has caused damage to the business, SMEs can proactively respond to potential issues, avoiding business losses, time wastage and reputational risk.

Having speedy and easy access to relevant insight is also vital for Big Data to be effective. There should be minimal barriers so as to reduce confusion. One example is the healthcare sector, which sees hospitals working towards an integrated care model that reduces the incidence of patients having overlapping or contradictory treatments.

Timing is essential

Knowing when there is a need for Big Data for your business is also important. Often, some businesses might baulk at the idea of Big Data adoption due to concerns about the size of their company.

SMEs will need to master the ability to present their data in a clear and practical way such that it helps them with their business decisions. As they have a grip on identifying trends and forecasting demand, this will help them trust the reliability of their data-driven decisions.

Timing is also essential when it comes to mining the information from social media. Through open source Big Data technologies, SMEs can quickly gain Big Data's benefits by detecting new opportunities, measuring the success of an online marketing campaign and evaluating customer needs.

Being versatile and easily accessible

With better data points, SMEs would not be limited by options that are ineffective and generic. SMEs can enhance their customer experience through knowing the preferences of each client to personalise their suite of goods or services. They should also improve their connectivity and touch points to make it convenient for consumers to respond to business information, anytime, anywhere.

By improving the productivity of their workforce as a result, SMEs can witness richer customer engagement and higher rates of customer satisfaction. For example, a British utilities company has been able to process data in real time to better anticipate equipment failures and respond quicker to leaks and adverse weather.

Juggling data well when in action

A data and analytics strategy that is implemented hastily could face problems such as high costs, low acceptance and slow adoption. Without having the appropriate data entry points, it can be tough to have solid and sustainable models that are capable of drawing on real business cases. This is due to having too many variables that make it complex or having models that managers find difficult to deploy.

Hence, caution and discretion have to be applied when fleshing out the plans. Potential business pitfalls such as an organisation's vulnerability to leaked information and risks that are easy to miss have to be factored in and dealt with effectively when it comes to integrating data-driven business decisions.

Integrating D&A into business strategy

A problem that enterprises may run into is how to integrate data across operations, transactions and customer interactions. Making the optimal choice is critical as swift and steady decisions are required to integrate volumes of information that can provide powerful insights. This may involve a new type of data architecture, developing a series of possible models and tools or aggregating customer data to expand loyalty programmes and tailoring services to their needs.

Management and executives also play a pivotal role in communicating the relevance of data and analytics to the staff. They can apply it in daily operations and encourage their teams to adopt it.

Building a data-driven culture

People have talked about data-driven cultures for some time, but what is required to create one effectively is fast changing due to the variety of new tools available. Developing competitions that reward employees for innovative insights, training boot camps where end-users can learn how to use self-service tools and having a community of end-users to validate findings and support users in their analyses are all good ways of employee engagement.

Creative interactions and adaptations will push companies to move beyond blindly adopting the latest fads and instead root their cultural change in well-defined, distinct action.

The way ahead

In Asia, the call for business leaders to integrate data into their leadership will become more visible. This rise in importance occurs as Asian leaders will rely on data insights to scale up their businesses and compete globally.

Business leaders will need to move beyond becoming analytic specialists or data scientists and show the capability to apply data to real-life and real-time situations encountered daily and globally.

Indeed, as Asia continues to change and grow rapidly, a huge cultural shift and celebration of innovation will allow Big Data to meet economic challenges. These include forecasting growing industries, identifying consumer niches and bottlenecks in the supply chain, testing new products and services and solving challenges of growing cities in the region.

SMEs should ride this wave of Big Data if they do not want to be left behind.

The article is contributed by Lyon Poh, Partner and Head of Digital + Innovation at KPMG in Singapore. The views expressed are their own.

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