IBM’s Four Ways to Innovate using Big Data

Keyboard with Big Data Button.I just read through “Four Ways to Innovate Using Big Data and Analytics” over on Forbes. It’s a good read…you should jump over and read it yourself.

If you don’t have the time (or just don’t want to), I give my thoughts on these ‘four ways” below.

The ‘four ways’ are:

  1. The payback on big data investments is happening quickly
  2. Businesses are increasingly using big data to solve operational challenges
  3. Organizations are reinventing business processes using digital tech
  4. Velocity, not volume, is driving the impact of big data

Before I dive into my thoughts, I have to point out that these ‘four ways’ are really only three as #1 above is really just informational.  I could also argue that #4 is mostly another informational tidbit (and one could argue that #2 and #3 are really the same thing) but I won’t get that picky here.

The fact that many companies are seeing payback on big data investments is wonderful. The article reports on an IBM survey that shows payback is happening very quickly with “some 63 percent of companies surveyed are seeing a return within a year, and 26 percent are getting a payback in six month.” That’s impressive, considering many organizations I’ve worked with and spoke to have no clear idea on how to calculate ROI or payback on big data initiatives when they first begin researching those initiatives.

I do love the fact that companies are using big data to solve operational challenges. That’s one of the real areas of value that you can easily point at and say “we saved X dollars or Y percent due to operational changes due to big data and analytics.”  One of the examples given in the article for this innovative approach is Wellpoint’s use of big data to “make more effective decisions about approving medical procedures and getting patients the care they need more quickly.” Wellpoint’s new system can reportedly ‘provide responses to requests for urgent pre-authorization in seconds instead of 72 hours.’ That’s pretty impressive.

I also love the fact that companies are reinventing business processes using digital tech, big data and analytics.  Companies are using all sorts of data collected from many different locations (e.g., social, mobile, cloud, etc) and then using that data to cut costs, create new services and products and increase revenue.  Solving operational challenges is basically the same thing as reinventing business processes. That said, there’s value in using data and analytics and applying them to your entire business to see if there is any improvements you can find.

The last item isn’t exactly an innovative ‘way’ to use big data but it is an extremely important thing for every organization to consider. Companies not only need to think about the ‘volume’ of data that they’re analyzing…they also need to think about the velocity of the data as it is collected and analyzed. The article again points to an IBM survey that claims “nearly three quarters of respondents say demand for data-driven insights will accelerate during the next 12 to 18 months.” Not only are we collecting more data today then ever before, but we are collecting and analyzing more data at a much faster rate then ever before.

Data analysis is no longer just about the about the size or type of data but about how fast that data can be converted from bits and bytes into useful information for the business. If your organization can quickly and efficiently convert your data into useful, informative and innovative knowledge you’ll be ahead of the big data game.

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