Today’s Data Challenge is Yesterday’s Data Challenge

ChallengesIf you spend any amount of time reading or talking about big data, you’ll often find that one of the challenges facing an organizations use of big data today is the same as problem that these organizations faced just a few years ago: using the data to actually do something.

Before the popularity of big data, most large organizations were focused on building their ‘knowledge warehouse’ to store data. Using business intelligence tools, these companies would then build out reports for various departments to run. These reports were generally very static (e.g., month-end financial reporting) and rarely did they provide any way for users to dig deeper into the data behind the reports.

The challenge in the ‘old’ days was to get people to look at these reports with a critical eye to using that data to improve the business. Many organizations did a good job at this but the vast majority of companies I’ve worked with and for did not. Most people within these organizations would see these reports, make sure there wasn’t any surprises contained within the reports, consolidate the reports into other reports and then move on. Very rarely did anyone dig any deeper into the data and if they did, they’d assign the additional analysis to an analyst and ask them to find out something didn’t look right.

What I find interesting is that I still see this same approach even within companies that claim to be ‘data driven’.  These companies have exponentially more data than they had just a few years ago, yet they still treat this data (and the analysis of that data) in the same way.  They spent a great deal of money on platforms to collect and analyze data yet the data analysis process remains the same.

The exact same challenge that faced organizations in years past exists today. They have data, analytics and reporting capabilities but rarely dive into the data for anything more than basic static reports. Additionally, the output of the analysis is generally reviewed and then put on a shelf (or deleted) without any real thought into what that analysis means or could mean to their business.

Today’s data challenge is the same challenge that has plague organizations for years. If you don’t use data to truly understand your business and make changes based on the analysis you do, you are wasting precious time and money.  Data (and the analysis of that data) is useless worthless until you actually use it.

This post is brought to you by HP’s Business Value Exchange.