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The Benefits of Big Data (and How to Avoid Getting Lost in It)

May 5, 2017
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Big data has been one of the most popular buzzwords in organizational strategy for the last few years. If you've heard the term, but aren't quite sure its exact definition, this one from Gartner should help:"Big data is high-volume, high-velocity and/or high-variety information assets that demand cost-effective, innovative forms of information processing that enable enhanced insight, decision making, and process automation."The promise of more data on customers and business processes is a good thing, right? For many, the answer is a resounding yes. After all, the potential is endless.Yet, businesses are struggling to draw from data, and some are even pushing back against the trends. The fact of the matter remains—the potential benefits of embracing data are unlike any we’ve seen before.

Big Data, Big Benefits

Big data can be used to help businesses reach their customers more effectively. This can be a huge benefit to sales and marketing teams, improving conversions and even shortening the sales cycle.Big data also allows organizations to predict and forecast much more accurately than ever before. Rather than rely on projections that are often months old, with big data, real-time information can be retrieved any time. This leads to better decision making and reduces the risk of making strategic choices based on bad information.The insights businesses can get from big data are incredibly valuable. New information and key performance indicators that had not been identified previously can now become important drivers.When used properly, a smart and savvy organization can harness the power of data and turn it into a competitive advantage. Businesses can create data-driven strategies to enable them to innovate and identify potential opportunities quickly.As you can see, organizations that can find a way to effectively embrace big data can reap significant rewards.

Feeling Overwhelmed by Data?

Despite the many positives associated with more data, there is a downside. And unfortunately, that's where many organizations find themselves today.As more data becomes available, it's difficult for organizations to distinguish the 'signal' from the 'noise.' Now more than ever, identifying what matters becomes vital.Many organizations are struggling to develop frameworks focused on the important side of data—the analytics—not its collection.Unsurprisingly, it's those businesses who have been able to embrace data in an organized and structured way that benefiting.

Taking an Improved Approach

Fortunately, there are a few key factors to embracing big data in a way that can benefit your business. I want to share a few of these with you here.


To process data effectively, your organization needs to have the right tools. Spreadsheets don't pack the punch to compute the complex formulas needed to extract meaningful data today.Businesses are becoming more active in their planning. They are relying on dashboards to visualize data for key decision makers. Not only that, but organizations also need to access reports and forecasts quickly and efficiently

Single Source of Truth

Hand in hand with upgrading technology comes one big benefit: the single source of truth for all your data. Removing multiple sources of information removes discrepancies and improves data quality.This also allows every department and decision maker to have access to key information. That helps improve productivity and establishes coordination and collaboration between departments.

Removing Inefficiencies

One of the biggest causes behind information lags and slow productivity is inefficient systems and processes. This is seen most often in the yearly budgeting and forecasting process, which can drag on for months at a time.Knowing which data matters is key to speeding up data collection and analysis. Low-value tasks can be removed or eliminated,and automation can become part of the operating and data collection procedures.

Final Thoughts

It should be no surprise that big data is here to stay. As technology gets more complex, ‘intelligent’ organizations will need to keep up with the trends. Those that choose not to develop a plan to embrace data will be left behind.Does it feel like your organization is drowning in data? If so, you'll want to attend the upcoming webinar: Accelerating your FP&A Transformation. In it, you'll learn key strategies to reduce or eliminate time-wasting activities and create frameworks for success.

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