As the world keeps evolving in various aspects most especially the technological part, there is a singular concept that has stood the taste of time for centuries and that’s data. The human civilisation has collected, stored and analysed information or data for a long time now using different techniques to achieve their goals.
The question that must be going through your mind right now is, what is data or what do people mean when mention things like big data?
Big data is a term that describes the large volume of data – both structured and unstructured – that inundates a business on a day-to-day basis. But it’s not the amount of data that’s important. It’s what organizations do with the data that matters. Big data can be analyzed for insights that lead to better decisions and strategic business moves
While the term “big data” is relatively new, the act of gathering and storing large amounts of information for eventual analysis is ages old. The concept gained momentum in the early 2000s when industry analyst Doug Laney articulated the now-mainstream definition of big data as the three Vs:
Volume. Organizations collect data from a variety of sources, including business transactions, social media and information from sensor or machine-to-machine data. In the past, storing it would’ve been a problem – but new technologies (such as Hadoop) have eased the burden.
Velocity. Data streams in at an unprecedented speed and must be dealt with in a timely manner. RFID tags, sensors and smart metering are driving the need to deal with torrents of data in near-real time.
Variety. Data comes in all types of formats – from structured, numeric data in traditional databases to unstructured text documents, email, video, audio, stock ticker data and financial transactions.
There are plenty of great ideas and techniques in the data space: from analytics to machine learning, data-driven decision making to improving data quality. Some of these ideas have been around for a long time and have fully proven they are useful.
According to the latest trends and digital shifts, data is considered as of one the world’s most valuable asset.
One might expect to see companies gaining big leaps of success from data through sustained revenue growth, improvement of customer satisfactions, experience and other benefits, except this have happened for very few companies.
It takes a lot to succeed with data and with that said, here are five key elements businesses should consider if they want to put to good use their data;
1. Segmentation of data
Data segmentation in a simpler language is the act of sorting data into specific groups of the customer’s database for easy and efficient targeted communication to the clients.
It is quite obvious that the first key thing you need to follow to succeed with data is to have it well segmented in a more easy and understandable approach to meet the need or task at hand.
As this is one of the biggest challenges with most companies having data scattered, unsegmented and stuck in departmental systems.
2. Monetising your data
Companies need to figure out ways on how to monetise their data with a business model that allows them to either sell it directly, build services or products around it.
Using it as an input for analytics and decision making is important, but that may not necessary bring in any financial gains if the business can’t figure out to monetise it.
3. Facilitate training sessions for data management
All organizations claim that they value data, but their leaders are hard-pressed to answer basic questions such as, “Which data is most important?” “How do you plan to make money from your data?” or “Do you have anything that is proprietary?”
So, as leaders in organisations they need to facilitate training the best data scientists and entire teams to facilitate answers to the above asked questions with the structure and culture that values data.
4. Use of technologies that upscale data
Companies need to adopt technologies that deliver at scale and allow low cost utilisation of the available data such as virtualization, cloud computing and mobile devices etc.
The need for technology and digitisation of systems allows one to make use of data effectively and efficiently.
5. Data security
Security is an essential component that can’t be undermined when dealing with data. Companies need to take serious security measures so as to protect their valuable data or else they stand a chance of losing money, time and customers.
Companies can achieve this by following laws & regulations around data, setting up data security centres, meeting required privacy requirements to mention but a few.
It is important to remember that the goal is not simply to get all you can out of your data. Rather, you want to leverage your data in ways that create new growth, cut waste, increase customer satisfaction, or otherwise improve company performance.
Author: Emmanuel Luvuuma
Emmanuel is a freelance writer and an advocate for digital inclusion across Africa. He has taken on many roles such as the Community Manager for Kafeero Foundation, a Digital Skills trainer and as an IT Support Guru.