Big-data represents tremendous opportunity for establishing competitive advantage and, on the flip side, great potential for missed chances and colossal failure. On these I think we can all agree -- as we can that intelligent use of analytics will make all the difference.
Note here that I'm talking about the use of the analytics results, not the analytics techniques themselves (although sophisticated approaches certainly will help). My point being this: You can analyze data to death, but if the business isn't guiding your direction, and embracing and acting on your results, then you might as well not bother.
Given the state of information management today, we could well be headed for far more lost opportunity than success with big-data. At fault is the ever-troublesome disconnect between IT and the business -- more of an issue than ever in the face of the information explosion.
If you don't believe me, put your trust in the nation's premier IT research centers. As discussed in a recent MIT Sloan Management Review article, "Finding Value in the Information Explosion," 10 researchers set out to answer two questions of the age: How well are companies managing the data explosion and capitalizing on the opportunities it presents? And, to what extent are they extracting value from the data at their disposal?
To do so, they studied the data- and information-related activities at 26 US corporations and large nonprofits. These entities represented retail, healthcare, manufacturing, education, government, and other industry sectors. Annual revenue exceeded the $1 billion-plus mark at more than 80 percent of them.
The researchers, like many big-data watchers, expected that the data explosion "would allow companies to put more data in the hands of decision-makers at all levels of the organization." However, as a trio of writers explained in the MIT SMR piece, "generating business value from increased amounts of data is still an aspiration" at most organizations studied.
Here's their assessment:
Despite the buzz around “big data,” most organizations in our study were focused on the challenges of storing, protecting and accessing massive amounts of data, efforts for which IT is primarily responsible. But these organizations have not spent significant resources on the business opportunities possible with such data. Our research shows that while the IT unit is extremely competent at storing and protecting data, it cannot make key decisions that turn data into increased business value. Only a few CIOs and other IT executives reported that their organizations were succeeding at generating significant business value from their data.
And their recommendation: "Within organizations, business leaders must take the lead in making better use of data."
This doesn't mean IT is cut out of the picture. In fact, the researchers do suggest that IT can be the corporate data steward. But, they write, "business leaders must take responsibility for defining the data value proposition and delivering on it."
Jeanne Ross, director of MIT Sloan's Center for Information Systems Research, and one of the researchers, will join us tomorrow at 4:00 p.m. ET for a conversation about the information explosion and how companies can gain value from it. You can read more about the study here and join in the live e-chat here.
Whether you fall under the IT, analytics, or business umbrella, don't miss this opportunity to discuss the big-data challenge with this academic thought leader. Join us tomorrow!