In the search for evidence to enable informed business decisions Big Data, Analytics and Actionable Business Intelligence are frequently used terms. In this article we look behind the terminology and what it actually means for your business.
According to Wikipedia, the term Big Data refers to a collection of data sets so large and complex that it requires specialised tools in order to capture, curate, store, search, share, transfer, analyze, and visualize. We prefer this definition over the “Volume, Velocity, Variety, Veracity” definition by Gartner and others, as it better describes the operational aspects of Big Data. Diverging from it, we prefer to categorize analysis and visualisation as part of Analytics.
Big Data and Big Data Analytics have become part of the CIO vocabulary and, when the projected financial returns justify it, the CIO agenda. The reasoning is simple: being able to rapidly answer critical questions and/or statistically predict answers to such questions based on analysis of a vast amount business data can create an unfair advantage over competition. Think, for example, the benefits a supermarket could reap by predicting what customers would buy at particular point in time based on analysis of historical purchasing data.
This brings us to the creation of Actionable Business Intelligence which is the main reason for considering the employment of Big Data and Analytics. Actionable Business Intelligence is about deriving insights from the answers delivered by Analytics on Big Data, to enable the creation of executable plans to deliver new or improved business benefits. The key phrases here are “deriving insights”, “executable plans” and “delivering business benefits”. You will note that all these activities encompass organisational work beyond the automatic data processing and analytical number crunching.
Let us dive deeper into two key areas: