How Important is Big Data to Business?
Produced at an astounding rate, data is everywhere. From purchase transactions, internet search records, social media posts, and form entries to GPS cell phone tracking, climate sensors, digital pictures, and internal company information, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day. Among that data are consumer transactions and purchasing behavior. Loyalty program members surpass 2.65 billion in the US alone and the significance of the data collected is staggering. Marketline reports, “Big Data analytics has become an absolutely essential part of loyalty programs, allowing retailers to spot patterns in people's buying habits that would be otherwise hidden.”
In business, data is vital to decision-making. A recent Economist Intelligence Unit reportsurveyed 476 senior executives worldwide and found Big Data essential to growing their operations. Of the executives surveyed, 83 percent reported their firms have used data to make existing products or services more profitable. Data supports organizational efforts and informs the ability to meet key performance indicators (KPIs).
Most businesses have realized the importance of collecting copious amounts of data. The use of this data, explained in a report from the McKinsey Global Institute, “will become a key basis of competition and growth for individual firms.” Big Data is what allows businesses to get smarter and more predictive about each and every customer. Big Data allows predictive text searches on Google, product recommendations on websites like Amazon, and emails personalized to individual customers. By leveraging data-driven strategies, businesses can create 1:1 customer journeys, providing the right information and the right offers at the right time.
Big Data and analytics not only help companies increase their bottom line by providing personalized and predictive customer information, in many cases, Business Intelligence and analytics have lead to the creation of new products and services. A survey from The Economist showed that companies with Big Data practices allowed them to use their data to provide a new product or service. Of the companies surveyed, 60 percent are already generating income from the data they gather and analyze and 69 percent of the executives surveyed felt that there is a case for starting a new business unit dedicated to developing data-related products or services.
The Growing Importance of Data Scientists
Data scientists are changing industries. Data scientists use data analytic models to predict earthquakes and stop crimes. Unstructured medical data can be analyzed with digital patient records to improve healthcare. Analyzing weather patterns means more efficient airline scheduling, improved verification of insurance claims, and life-saving severe storm warnings. Likewise, data scientists are making businesses more profitable.
While data is the essential building block of a Business Intelligence strategy, Big Data is only useful to a company when it can make sense of the data and then act on it. That’s where the role of a data scientist, data analyst, or Business Intelligence developers comes in. If your company doesn’t have someone with Business Intelligence training or data analytics training--the skills to analyze data--it’s probably time to consider it.
General titles of data analytics and Business Intelligence professionals vary, but the most common data analysis job titles are Business Analyst, Business Systems Analyst, and Data Scientist.
There is a shortage of Data Scientists
Whether your company needs a data analysis professional with a strong business background or someone with Business Intelligence skills steeped in IT systems, coding, and design, understand there is an overall shortage of people with business analytics training.
According to the McKinsey Report, “There will be a shortage of talent necessary for organizations to take advantage of Big Data. By 2018, the United States alone could face a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with deep analytical skills as well as 1.5 million managers and analysts with the know-how to use the analysis of Big Data to make effective decisions.” What this means to businesses is that, while the need for Business Intelligence skills is undisputed, the ability to hire people with the needed analytic skillset is limited.
And, even those trained in data science may not be absolutely perfect for your company. Amy Gershkoff, the chief data officer at Zynga and adjunct professor at the University of California at Berkeley explains, “Without training in...other areas, data scientists may be capable of designing an algorithm that is mathematically elegant, but doesn’t make strategic sense for the business.” Computer science skills are essential, but a working knowledge of your company’s processes and needs is also paramount to implementing successful business intelligence strategies.
How to Hire the Right Data Analyst for Your Company
To maximize the advantages of Business Intelligence and Big Data to your company, it is essential to hire the right data analysis skill set. Consider the following strategies as you find someone to help make sense of your data:
Start the Transition
Big Data means everything to companies because it allows them to create personalized and predictive experiences for their customers. However, hiring and retaining people with data analytics and Business Intelligence skills is a challenge that will only increase in the coming years. Having the right business intelligence software is a first step in solving the data analysis puzzle.
Your company is probably sitting on a fortune’s worth of data that can give you deeper customer insights and pinpoint actions to streamline processes. You need someone who can mine that data. Finding people with advanced data analytics skills allows you to make Big Data work for you. Using customizable reports and real-time statistics make it possible to leverage data to make informed marketing, customer service, and sales decisions.
Today’s business intelligence is technology-driven with Big Data in the driver’s seat. The biggest challenge for most companies in this Big Data frontier is finding the right people with the required skills and data analytics training who can help your company leverage Business Intelligence and analytics to grow sales and streamline processes.
Given the shortage of data scientists, the answer many companies are finding suitable is to train from within. Training a current employee in Big Data analytics is often a superior solution because your employee already understands your operations and can enable your company to use Big Data to reach your goals.