A global survey shows that most businesses are losing revenue through ineffective data management; big data tools can help

April, 24, 2016

By Xavier Verhaeghe, Vice President, Technology Solutions, Oracle Europe, Middle East & Africa

In a global survey conducted by Oracle in collaboration with WSJ Custom Studios, 90 percent of executives from large enterprises across a wide range of industries said they consider the ability to garner insight from data vital to their company’s future. The worrying news however is that in the same survey 98 percent of the 742 executives also said they believe their company is losing revenue as a result of not effectively managing and utilising information.

This survey suggests that the vast majority of businesses are still struggling to cope with the huge amounts of data flowing into their organisations every day. More than half the executives Oracle spoke to cited serious concerns about their company’s ability to manage significant data inflows; something that respondents believe could be costing them as much as 16 percent of their annual revenue.

Data is increasingly a new form of capital, and no business wants to see that capital sitting idle. Big data is the art of extracting the full value of every byte that flows through an organisation; and today’s sophisticated big data technologies — whether delivered on premise, in the cloud or via a combination of both — can help businesses to master their information and use it more imaginatively across the business.

But before they can implement a big data strategy successfully, organisations need to consider whether they have the four building blocks in place that will allow them to manage, analyse, integrate and apply their data effectively.

Big Data Management

Big data management is a matter of ensuring an organisation is able to capture the data, knows where its data is, that it’s secure, kept in the right format and is accessible for analysis when required. There has been significant innovation in data management, with newer technologies like Hadoop and NoSQL, and the further evolution of the relational database with InMemory capabilities. This gives a greater range of options for data storage and management for our customers, enabling them to choose the method that is most cost-effective and appropriate for individual data sets.

The real beauty of big data management, however, lies in its ability to merge all of the data stored in these various formats and databases into a ‘data lake’. This means that organisations need to break down the silos within their businesses that have historically prevented them from making the most of their data, enabling analysts to access data from across business functions.

Big Data Analytics

Of course, this data will struggle to progress into actionable insights unless it’s interrogated, and this is where big data analytics capabilities come in. Big data analytics are the tools and functions that support the information discovery process, enabling businesses to take a mass of raw data and identify new trends and behaviours within it.

The goal many businesses have in mind when implementing big data analytics is to move towards generating predictive analytics. This is where they use data relating to past activities – for example, transaction histories or share price movements – to predict what may happen in the future. Some businesses are adding prescriptive analytics, where they use analytics to suggest possible actions that could improve a business process or outcome.

One interesting business that has already benefited significantly from big data analytics is the online game developer and publisher The company uses the Oracle Big Data Appliance to collect and analyse the 40TB of customer data it acquires each day to discover insights on how to improve its online multi-player computer game. The results speak for themselves: in one regional customer segmentation programme, managed to increase revenues by 62 percent through data-driven insights.

Big Data Integration
A business implementing an effective big data strategy doesn’t just proactively manage and analyse data: it also ensures it’s applying the right governance to its data. This is where big data integration proves its worth. As the sources of information businesses collect, store and manage become increasingly diverse, including audio, video, text, social media and even sensor data robust data governance is critical to ensuring its data is located in the right place and used correctly.

Big Data Applications
Applications are the last mile of a big data strategy. They unlock the value of big data management, analytics and integration in the form of software and services designed to solve industry or business function-specific problems. By making big data accessible and beneficial to workers in marketing and supply management, or showing how big data insights can transform retail or financial services businesses, applications are key to ensuring the whole business – not just the IT function – believes in the power of data.

Taking the first step to endless possibilities
Few organisations doubt that big data has enormous potential: 98 percent of the 742 executives surveyed by Oracle, in collaboration with WSJ Custom Studios, are planning investments in technology infrastructure, business intelligence tools, business and industry applications, all through working with external vendors to manage their critical data. But, as with so many other key business decisions, the hardest step to make is the first one.

Those that have already implemented an effective big data strategy like understand that the four building blocks of big data offer a framework for improving their products and services. By working through how their data is managed, integrated and analysed, they can be sure that the insights they generate from that data will really change their business – and empower them to take action.