'Big Data' is having its 15-minutes of fame. It is the hot
term referring to the increasingly large datasets of information
being amassed as a result of our social, mobile, and digital world.
In the past 12-months, the use of the term in the U.S. has
increased 1,211% on the internet.
Lack of data is not the issue. Lack of strategy is.
that every day 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created - so much
that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the
last two years. It is mind-boggling. The irony is we have more
information available, but we feel less informed.
Bridging the gap between big data and big strategy starts with
effectively framing the problem. If you have
read Moneyball (Lewis; Norton) or seen the
movie, you witnessed the power of big data - it is the story about
the ability to compete and win with few resources and limited
dollars. This sums up the hopes and challenge of business
The Oakland A's
did it in baseball, but some companies have their
ownMoneyball story. In the thought-provoking
book Scoring Points (Humby, Hunt, Phillips;
Kogan Page), the authors discuss how Tesco, the
UK-based grocer, analyzed customer purchase behavior to redefine
their brand, drive loyalty, and fuel rapid growth.
In SuperCrunches: Why Thinking-by-Numbers Is the New Way
to Be Smart (Ayres; Random House), the authors show how
number- crunching affects you in ways you might never imagine.
York Times Magazine ran a fascinating article "How
Companies Learn Your Secrets", discussing how Target Corporation
studies consumer habits and data to drive explosive sales.
These examples illustrate the potential of big data - being
smarter with the right resources. Success in doing so is becoming a
reality with faster information, better modeling and cheaper
computing power. A small army of consultants are amassing to help
analyze the large datasets. In a study byMcKinsey's Business Technology Office and
MGI the firm calculated the U.S. faces a shortage of
140,000 to 190,000 people with analytical expertise and 1.5 million
managers and analysts with the skills to understand and make
decisions based on the analysis. I want to emphasize this last
point - the biggest gap is the lack of skilled managers to make
decisions based on analysis by a factor of 10x.
Growing talent and building teams to make analytic-based
decisions is the key to realizing the value of big data.
One of the most effective ways to start building these
capabilities on your team is the "IWIK" discussion. The
concept is based on asking a simple but powerful question: 'I wish
I knew' (IWIK). The question is a catalyst for a
brainstorming discussion to identify wants and needs with respect
to big data. IWIK will uncover the strategic,
essential questions that can be answered through big data. It will
define the indispensable information you need to move forward.
Identifying and answering the
relevant IWIKs for your business will enable you
to become smarter along two paths: avoid getting lost in big data,
and using the right data to discover the real wants and needs of
your customers. In the new reality of big data, hyper-competitive
businesses are linking and labeling perception information,
transactional data and layering in social behaviors and then using
the IWIK to define the data rails to shape
analytic-based decisions. Therefore, the focus should be less on
'big' data and more on 'essential' data.
What is your IWIK?