If you’re reading almost any major business journal today you’re being exposed to the concept of big data. So I thought it might be helpful to understand what big data is, how to use it, and what it means to the future of business growth. Over the last several weeks several clients have asked me to help them determine what big data means to their high growth business. Big Data is not a new idea but today’s technologies make it possible for you to connect the dots faster to identify opportunities for future growth in your business.
There is a down side to the new social technologies when it comes to analyzing key trends for your business. You have to make a continuing commitment to increasing your information analysis skills. You must also take into account new factors impacting the volume of data being created about your company and your marketplace.
There are three metrics that drive Big Data. They are volume, velocity, and variety. These key factors have grown exponentially over the past several years. These factors can create a sense of overwhelm for even the most seasoned CEO or marketing leader, if they don’t know how to use it.
I thought it might be helpful to give you a framework I use with clients to analyze what’s happening in their markets. I used it doing competitive intelligence work in the past. My four step process helps you deal with the demands for better analysis that these new market conditions require.
Step 1 – Look at information for clues and trends. It’s interesting that most successful products come from trends that are seen by everyone. The best products come from observing the same information and coming to different conclusions. You must also try to get your information and insights from a wide range of sources. But how do you do this? It’s counterintuitive but looking at the smaller clues and trends can help provide you insights that can give your business an edge.
Step 2 – Organize the information. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information available. You must structure and organize the information so you and others can make sense of it. Be creative with how you represent the information to your team. You might organize the information into stories, case studies, or metaphors. You should look at both differences and similarities when dealing with this information. What things keep appearing in the data? During this time, remain flexible with your organization and in structuring the information. Also, engage your different team members in this organizing process. Different stakeholders have different ways of seeing the same data. Engineers see the world differently than marketers and that’s a good thing. It’s your responsibility to help facilitate these discussions.
Step 3 – Begin analyzing your information. Do you know what you are seeing? What stands out to you? How do these trends show up? What are the sources of your information? Are there similarities to what you’re seeing? Are you using critical thinking to decide what is true or false among the collected information? Be careful that you don’t jump to a conclusion to early. It’s easy during the first three steps to jump to conclusions. Don’t!! Continue reviewing material but limit the time you spend during these early stages. There will be an opportunity to come to a conclusion at the end of this process.
Step 4 – Come to a conclusion on what your information means to your business. Be prepared to make an initial decision on what you learn. At this point, you should decide what trends are supporting your conclusions. Once you come to your conclusion you should be prepared to share and defend your findings with others on the leadership team with a solid rationale for the conclusions you reached from the data. You must be willing to share your process with others so they can be brought in to help you implement your programs faster.
I find successful leaders are very effective at communicating their vision for the future. You must become good at positioning your company based on what you’ve learned. You must become agile at seizing potential opportunities and discarding what won’t work quickly. Next week, we’ll share with you how to use big data to connect with your market and create unique experiences for your best clients. See you here next Wednesday.