If you haven’t heard of Big Data yet you are in trouble. Most companies over time generate vast amounts of data that is stored in a variety of servers. Most of the time this data was collected with a single purpose in mind but they are rarely connected in ways that allow for easy cross referencing. Perhaps it was market research, or perhaps billing. Maybe it was a competition entry or maybe stock market fluctuations for a related industry. All of this data is available for analysis and applying the correct correlations and filters would yield new business intelligence insights.

Big Data is like having a massive photographic memory. Every detail entered into a company’s set of databases, and even publicly available databases, is instantly available.

Imagine for a moment a genius who possesses such an incredible ability. One day he slips, hits his head and suffers temporary memory loss. All of the memories are there, but in this time the genius becomes a regular Joe who cannot remember what he had for breakfast. His ability is not the fact that he learns things – we all do that with shockingly little inhibition. His ability also has nothing to do with the information stored in his brain – we all do that as well. His ability that differentiates him is to recall memories and to create meaningful connections between the memories. Without the ability to selectively recall such memories and create insightful new connections, his memory is useless.

Without the ability to filter relevant data and combine it in useful ways, Big Data is useless. To maximise the value of your Big Data you need the following:

  1. Smart questions: most people ask questions that are really just requests for information. We do this because we have the innate ability to build relationships between facts and make deductions. However, we are limited to the frameworks with which we are comfortable, so our questions generally bring about the same type of insight. Smart questions seek links between frameworks that go beyond our comfort zone and bring to light perspectives that challenge our way of thinking.
  2. Smart interfaces: Big Data is really just a term that describes an ever-growing mass of information gathered from a wide variety of sources and stored in a large variety of databases. A smart interface will allow decision makers to access disparate data sources from a single point of entry.
  3. Smart analytics: You have a smart question and the smart interface to pull the data, but what now? Now you need the rules by which the data will be analyzed to deliver viable results. Smart analytics act like an engine that can differentiate data quality, correct sample sizes, appropriate statistical analyses and generate easy-to-read reports.

Instituting smart questions, smart interfaces and smart analytics will ensure that your Big Data will generate Big Advances in your company.

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