Although its been a ‘buzzword’ for a while, the concept of big data has really started to gain traction and ingrain itself in commercial consciousness over the past year or so. According to research published in 2017, 76% of UK companies were planning to use big data or data analytics within the next 12 months.
Much of this discussion surrounding big data in business has focused on its application in improving services for consumers and end-users but, while this is hugely important, it’s not the end of the story. Data’s potential to revolutionise the way organisations operate behind the scenes, at a strategic level, is just as significant. In many cases, it’s possible to make these improvements with a company’s existing data, simply by managing it better.
So, how can data be used to provide value in the way organisations work? These examples demonstrate data informing not just business strategy, but informational structure and operational culture too.
Improved visibility through a data-enabled infrastructure
Many organisations rely on a complex mix of information management systems, often with one or more for each key area of the business i.e. marketing, accounting and finance, manufacturing etc.
Where each system processes and generates different datasets, reports and results in isolation, it can be difficult and time-consuming to cross-reference these in order to gain a singular view of an organisation’s activity at any one time.
Having a holistic data infrastructure in place, supported by cloud-based technology, can connect ‘data silos’ (static, separate stores of data) and give businesses instant data sharing for a true reflection of organisational performance. Analysis of combined datasets can reveal opportunities for work practice streamlining and cost-saving almost immediately, as well as evidence for refined strategic direction.
Enabling change via a data-driven culture
Once an organisation’s data can flow freely through each of its systems, data analytics can start to prove the case for making more wide-reaching cultural changes. It can be hard for managers to convince stakeholders that fundamental change is required, but data insight conveyed through clear data visualisation can help illustrate the need to do things differently with undeniable impact.
With the right knowledge and expertise, data analytics can be a persuasive tool, able to help managers bring about much-needed shake ups, respond swiftly to changing circumstances and secure top-level management buy-in.
Aiding the fulfillment of key business objectives
Every organisation has its own set of business objectives, but many may not be employing data to help them in their realisation. However a business uses data, it should work for the benefit of specific and defined purposes, tailored to the organisation and what its aiming to achieve.
Business advisor Bernard Marr has developed a SMART strategy for applying data to business goals.This step-by-step methodology includes defining an existing strategy, measuring metrics and data, applying analytics, reporting results and finally transforming a business. Approaches like this can facilitate the integration of data-led strategic thinking into an organisation’s business plan, enabling it to take positive steps towards future growth. Marr’s work references many examples of businesses doing just this, such as machinery manufacturer John Deere, who are leading the way in ‘precision farming’ using data from sensors and smart technology to pin-point the best agricultural statergies to maximise crop yield.
Big data as a strategic asset
As more companies realise the capacity data has to transform business strategy and the importance of professionals able to decipher it, its value is set to rise exponentially.
Recognising data as a vital strategic resource is an important element of our Online MBA with Data Analytics, which seeks to create managers capable of taking their businesses to the next level through the power of big data. Each data module offers a different perspective on achieving business progression in this way, such as the Deriving Business Value through Data Science module, which aims to enable students to propose strategic changes based on data insight.
To find out more about how this course can help you embark on a data-led career, request more information today.