A new research report, Big Data in Big Companies, describes how 20 large firms benefit from big data projects. Report co-authors Tom Davenport of the International Institute for Analytics (IIA) and Jill Dyché of SAS, the business analytics services provider, explore how these companies have deployed analytics to generate value from their big data assets.
"We're making a big bet on big data," says Bill Ruh, Vice President of GE's Software and Analytics Center. "With that said, the pilot projects we've put out there have solved some big problems already. Our early proof-points were important. Now we're moving forward with even more complex problem sets. We're making this a part of everything we do."
The report highlights the most cross-industry, big data success stories ever published. Research participants included AIG, Bank of America, Caesars Entertainment, Carolinas Health Care, CIGNA, Dell, Discover, Fidelity, GE, Macys.com, Schneider National, Sears, T-Mobile, UnitedHealthcare, UPS, Verizon and Wells Fargo.
Big data pays off in multiple ways
"As we engaged big company executives in conversations about big data for this report, they all agreed that big data is an evolutionary set of capabilities that would have new and sometimes unanticipated uses over time," said Davenport, Research Director of the IIA and Visiting Professor at Harvard Business School. "But every one of these executives conceded that they couldn't afford to make big data a mere academic exercise. It needed to drive value, and better sooner than later."
Big data initiatives enable companies to analyse diverse data – structured and unstructured, from internal and external sources – and uncover new insights. Executives at the big data early adopters in the report stressed that analysing big data delivers big payoffs by creating new business capabilities and helping their organisations conduct current processes cheaper, faster and more effectively.
"Big data wasn't really a commonly known term when I first started," said Kerem Tomak, Vice President of Marketing Analytics at Macys.com. "With all that data – and a 50 per cent year-over-year growth rate – it's more than likely that the business demand for big data at Macys.com will only increase."
Executives interviewed for the report described the value of combining reporting, analytics, exploration, protection, and recovery on a single big data platform. Big data environments usually coexist with, rather than replace, data warehouse and business intelligence infrastructures already in place. Organisations that were most effective and likely to succeed fostered strong relationships between business and IT.
"Big data was a wake-up call for these executives," said Dyché, Vice President of Best Practices at SAS. "As high-performance analytics became a reality and performance accelerated, they began realising what could be done. Sure, companies can use big data solutions to fast-track complex business processes. But the promise of fresh innovation is the real allure of big data for executives. They're turning their attention – and their budgets – to emerging technologies and skills."
The report found that transforming organisations through analytics requires new skills, leadership, organisational structures, technologies and architectures. Most organisations surveyed are augmenting existing analytical staff, adding data scientists with IT capabilities who can manipulate big data technologies. Solid knowledge of data architectures, data quality, and master data management hubs are just the beginning for firms pursuing big data as a long-term differentiator, the report concluded.
For a free download of Big Data in Big Companies, visit: http://www.sas.com/reg/gen/corp/2266746
The announcement came at The Premier Business Leadership Series event in Amsterdam, a business conference presented by SAS that brings together more than 700 attendees from the public and private sectors to share ideas on critical business issues.