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Big Data maturity: The path from information to insight to income

All data provides information. The trick is in getting meaningful information to rise to the top.

By Ronda Swaney, contributing writer

Big Data is like an epic novel with multiple story lines. The information is rich and deep, but it takes a masterful storyteller to weave it together in a way that doesn't lose the reader. To complicate things, it's a tale that never stops being told. Information is added to the narrative constantly. The story spins at a rate faster than we can follow.

The right queries deliver significant insight into customer experiences and desires.


It's the constant spinning, the constant creation of data that presents such a challenge to the enterprise. There is the promise of business intelligence inside the details, but the difficulty often comes from trying to weave a coherent narrative from that information. Data stores, particularly unstructured data stores, keep multiplying, and it's to this collection of structured and unstructured data types that we must formulate incisive queries. We know that the right queries will deliver significant insight into customer experiences and desires. Those queries can help us find, tell, and use the story hidden inside the data.

The challenge comes in forming the right queries. Data scientists and analysts experiment with various lines of inquiry into this data, and often those queries fail to yield actionable answers. Yet the result from a successful query—one that reveals the story hidden in the data—may transform your business or even disrupt an entire industry.

Once that insight happens, the next goal is turning that information into ongoing success for your business. As data scientists learn to use queries that deliver insights, how can they repeat that process to create even better queries? What queries will result in bottom-line improvements every day inside your business?

Mining for insights requires the right people and tech

At first, only large enterprises could afford data architectures that operated on a scale large enough and at speeds fast enough to make a difference to the bottom line of the business. As technology has matured, Big Data has become democratized: there are software platforms that allow large-scale analytics, and cloud-based platforms allow any business to use real-time and near-real-time data processing to get the best information from their freshest data sets.

All data provides information, but some information contains more meaning than others. The trick is in getting meaningful data to rise to the top. According to an HPE white paper, "What thriving businesses need is an iterative, more conversational approach to real-time analytics. When systems produce answers in minutes or seconds, business analysts can immediately apply that answer to frame better, more meaningful questions, which, in turn, produce more insightful answers."

Until now, businesses have required data scientists who see beyond the details to envision the big picture. The problem has been the shortage of scientists. In the absence of people who can fill this role, technology can now help fill the gap, and successful businesses are using a combination of personnel and tech to mine meaningful details from their data.

From insights to action to income

Data is only as good as what it can deliver to your business.


But if the actions taken based on data don't increase revenue or brand value, what's the point? According to an HPE report, a 2013 Gartner survey revealed that 56 percent of IT executives were unsure of how to derive business value from Big Data, and 34 percent said they had at least one failed Big Data initiative. Data is only as good as what it can deliver to your business. Consider how Costco managed a fruit recall: The membership-based retailer knows which customers buy which products, so when the fruit recall occurred, Costco knew which customers were affected within 24 hours, and those customers were quickly contacted by phone and email. Instead of a PR nightmare, the incident provided Costco with a way to strengthen customer loyalty and trust. Another example is how Red Roof Inn used weather data and canceled-flight information to reach stranded travelers in need of hotels close to airports. The tactical use of this information resulted in a ten percent increase in business for those hotels.

Is your enterprise struggling to get valuable insights from data? Big Data Services from HPE can help you maximize the value of business data by fine-tuning your infrastructure strategy and data insight.


Ronda Swaney is a professional healthcare and IT writer, blogger, and content marketer.


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