Processing power is multiplying every year, bandwidth continues to increase and storage is virtually unlimited making it possible for enormous amount of data to be stored, transported and analyzed. In addition, the increasing digitization and automation across industries is resulting in vast amount of data being created at each process or business level and across the value chain. For instance, a retail firm can gather data from many sources starting from supplies, transport, warehouse, stores, energy usage, point-of-sale, customer service, website and many others. The amount of data that can be extracted from these internal sources is in itself massive. If we add the data that can be gathered from external sources such as social networks, blogs and vendors or partners, the amount of data could well become overwhelming.
Therefore, one of the key challenges that organizations face today is- how can they put all of this data to meaningful use? I recently participated in the Wipro-Cisco breakfast roundtable that Wipro hosted with Forrester Research on "Data Innovation" in May 2012. The event was aimed at identifying and discussing the current state, key challenges and benefits of data analytics.
Bryan Hopkins, leading analyst, Forrester Research and Kevin Bolden, Senior Director of Enterprise Business Intelligence and Data Warehouse, Cisco presented their views on reaping the benefits of big data by deploying packaged analytics solutions with real time data sourcing and how enterprises can leverage big data for productivity and competitiveness. Bryan Hopkins pointed out how telecom & retail organizations are demarcating themselves from the competition by investing in business analytics and Intelligence, empowering themselves to take better-informed decisions.
It is indeed interesting that there is so much data at our disposal, and analysis of this data can help organizations develop meaningful insights to improve their businesses. However, as more and more companies implement business intelligence solutions to reap the benefits of big-data, one of the critical questions remains – will the intelligence deliver benefits proportionate to the investments and efforts? It is extremely critical to answer this question before proceeding with any BI project. For instance- an analytics solution that can help reduce energy usage would have more impact on a particular retail company's margins, than a solution aimed at reducing product wastage. Similarly, for a telecom company, investing in an analytics solution aimed at improving customer experience and reducing churn would make more business sense than a solution aimed at upselling.
Therefore, organizations need to be very careful while selecting analytics projects and must judiciously evaluate the benefits that a BI project can potentially deliver and weigh it against their business priorities before investing. One must also understand there is 'no one size fits all' solution. A BI project may deliver great benefits such as reduced costs or increased revenues for a particular company or industry, but it may turn out to be absolutely worthless investment for another. One must note- data can only deliver sense and intelligence if organizations are sensible in selecting BI projects that have a strong business case and is closely aligned to their business strategy.