Being digital in 2018 : forget big data !


Data matters and it’s certainly what will fuel your performance in the upcoming years. But as regarding digital innovation there are huge gaps in terms in understanding and maturity that lead to mistakes or wrong decisions.

First, the word big data has become such a catch-all that it does not mean anything anymore. Businesses have always done things with data, the only difference being that we’re now capable of going further in terms of volume, speed and variety of data. So we’ve always done as big as possible. Today’s big is bigger than yesterday’s and smaller than tomorrow’s. So what’s left is data, which is not more meaningful.

Data is good, applied data is better

In the same way that digital has become a business matter, data followed the same path. Data is good but it’s better when we know what it’s used to. There’s a wrong belief according to which one just have to process data to eventually find something. But reality is the opposite : if you don’t know what you’re looking for it will be hard to find it. So, instead of saying “data”, let’s talk about the intent : decision making, customer understanding, employee understanding, risk prediction, attrition prediction….

Last : data is not always big. When they look at the herculean programs some large businesses are undertaking, smaller ones may think that it’s not for them, that it’s too big, that they don’t have such needs and challenges, not enough data to process, not the resources. Once again, reality is quite different.

Data is small before being big

No matter the size, the ambition and the means, there’s something to do with data. And small data is the best way to start. Businesses have a data heritage that most of them underestimate, under-use or don’t use at all. There is a lot to do with the analytics of a small e-commerce site without starting a complex program or recruiting an army of data scientists. There’s also a learning curve for businesses that start to utilize data : it’s not only possible but suitable to start small with pragmatic and easy to do things then scale and go deeper if it’s needed and if one has the means.

But once again, I see a lot of small and mid-sized business that have a too vague vision of what data is or that are too impressed to dare doing something while there are lots of affordable things to do provided some myth are busted.

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