Getting maximum value from your big data initiative


By Frank Hayes

After decades of trying to get value out of their data assets, companies and government agencies in the United States are finally realizing business value from big data, management consultants Paul Barth and Randy Bean write at Harvard Business Review.

According to a survey with 50 C-level executives from Aetna, American Express, Bank of America, General Electric, Wells Fargo, the Pentagon and other large organizations, 85 percent of respondents said they had a big data initiative planned or in progress, with almost half already using big data in an operational capacity.

The primary reason executives cited for the big data investment was to enable better, fact-based decision making. But in follow up interviews, execs highlighted the biggest advantage they got from big data: the ability to accelerate the speed at which they can get to a decision. "In order to achieve this goal, many of the firms interviewed have established a new business metric for measuring the value of their big data initiatives--Time-to-Answer," write Barth and Bean.

Chief data officers and Chief analysts also using a common set of steps to improve their TTA: Identify the five most critical business questions to answer in order to get initial quick wins to prove the value of the technology; create an analytical sandbox that enables data discovery, by which executives can play with their data and experiment in an effort to discern new patterns and detect critical new insights; refine the questions through iterative analysis; validate the hypotheses through test-and-learn techniques; and lastly incorporate the analytics into operational processes.

For more:
- see Paul Barth and Randy Bean's post at Harvard Business Review

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