The saying ‘If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it’ has long been linked to business and management. Big data now means that managers have access to a wealth of information that measures many different aspects of their business operations, customers and employees. While the information is now more accessible than ever, transforming the raw data into something that is useful and adds values can be tricky.
When interpreted correctly, big data can give businesses a competitive edge and help managers make decisions that will improve the effectiveness of their departments. By understanding what customers want, accessing predictions based on historical data and having real time statistics managers can be equipped with vital tools to help them make a range of judgement calls in the short and long term.
The first thing you need to do to make your big data useful is to identify the business’s problems or goals. Doing this will enable you to narrow down the data you’ll be interpreting and set up a framework for correlating the different streams of information. If you’ve been collecting as much information as possible it’s likely you’ll have plenty of data whatever your goal or issue, whether you want to improve output or reduce health and safety risks.
Once you’ve selected your focus you’ll need to consider how to use the data available to create useful insights. A good way to do this is by asking questions and linking the data, for instance you could see if there is a correlation between increased sales and the weather or if output falls when new employees join the team. The retrieved information could, for example, indicate that promotions when the weather is cold could lead to increased profits or suggest that more extensive training for new employees could be beneficial to maintaining output.
While big data brings benefits to managers it does also present challenges. While algorithms can give predications based on the information it has, managers still need to interpret this and decide how it will influence their decisions. Big data has the potential to provide accurate real time information but this isn’t always the case and managers will need to learn to embrace the flow of information but also understand how to use the data to influence their choices going forward.
Big data also works best when it’s embedded throughout the whole organisation and all managers can effectively use the information in their operations. Simply picking out the information that supports their views isn’t the best way to use the data and can lead to poor decisions, instead looking at the data available first and basing decisions off this should be embedded in all business departments for the best outcomes.