shutterstock_110260043By Glenn Finch, IBM When it comes to big data, organizations are feeling the need for speed. Using the cloud as a platform for innovation, companies are rolling out big data and analytics technologies not simply to transform how they engage with customers, but to change how their businesses do business. This speed-driven pairing of big data and analytics, powered by the cloud, is beginning to determine how companies perform and compete. It’s helping organizations remake internal operations. It’s being woven into decision making — by both managers and employees. And, it’s providing precise, real-time insight into everything from inventory to sales to employee performance to customer needs. To compete, other organizations need to move from gathering data to quickly acting on insight provided by the data. For today’s businesses, there are four things to keep in mind when beginning big data and analytics innovation projects. They are: 1. The payback on big data investments is happening quickly: In a recent IBM Institute for Business Value study, “Analytics: The Speed Advantage,” some 63 percent of companies surveyed are seeing a return within a year, and 26 percent are getting a payback in six months. This is part of an overall trend we’ve seen during the past two years. Digging into those numbers, 49 percent of organizations rolling out one or more big data technologies reported returns that met or exceeded expectations. 2. Businesses are increasingly using big data to solve operational challenges: The customer is still the biggest focus, but companies have started using big data to manage back office and operational processes. In fact, 40 percent are focusing data and analytics on operational objectives, a significant increase from just 25 percent in 2013. In short, they are finding a new way to work. Consider how WellPoint is using big data and analytics to tackle one of the biggest issues in healthcare: how to make more effective decisions about approving medical procedures and getting patients the care they need more quickly. WellPoint is using IBM’s Watson cognitive analytics to help its nursing staff provide approval suggestions quickly based on vast amounts of clinical and patient data. The new system, for instance, provides responses to requests for urgent pre-authorization in seconds instead of 72 hours. 3. Organizations are reinventing business processes using digital tech: Companies are spurring growth by using mobile,cloud, analytics, and social business to rethink how they organize their processes. They’re using social and mobile technologies, for instance, to change the way people connect, transact and engage with companies, institutions and governments. They’re making better use of data to increase revenues and cut costs. New data and advanced analytics are ushering in ways to craft more responsive business processes. For instance, Rexel UK Ltd., an electrical industrial supplies company, rebuilt its business intelligence platform from the ground up to give employees the right information at the right time when dealing with its clients. In the past, many employees were overwhelmed by the sheer volume of reports on the system. Rexel transformed its reporting processes, trimming the number of reports by 90 percent through the use of techniques such as dashboards. Decision makers now have updated information at their fingertips. 4. Velocity, not volume, is driving the impact of big data: Nearly three quarters of respondents say demand for data-driven insights will accelerate during the next 12 to 18 months. And, most say that there will be a major increase in pace. Initially, companies invested in big data technologies to handle the tsunami of bits and bytes they were facing. But simply managing data volume and variety doesn’t cut it anymore. Now companies have reported that the strategies that are helping them the most are the ones that create agile and flexible infrastructures they can build on and pull insights quickly from. Rather than just managing data, companies are now coming up with innovative approaches for making the most of it. Source