(Image Credit – SAS)
“Without big data analytics, companies are blind and deaf, wandering out onto the web like deer on a freeway.” – Geoffrey Moore
Much has already been written about the last five years heralding the dawn of the Data Age. The production, processing and consumption of Data already dominates the Internet. Whether that be social media data or relationship data or search data etc – We all can agree that much of human interaction is beginning to be focused around data and the intricate patterns in those mountains of data.
The term Twitter Revolution (referring to the different revolutions and protests, all of which were coordinated using the social networking site Twitter to plan the protests, mobilize the demonstrators and update the news to all around the world) is now part of the lexicon. Anyone remember Arab Spring?
Just as Data has radically changed the social landscape, the aftershocks are beginning to be felt in how businesses operate, innovate and evolve.Just as Amazon,Google,Yahoo and Twitter et al have built data driven platforms, players in the traditional Fortune 500 are now endeavoring to do so. Whatever moniker one uses to refer to this phenomena – Digital Platform or Business Transformation or Next Generation Analytics – these are all essentially underpinned by Data.
In Financial Services & Banking, most people would agree that there has been too much of a focus on the technology itself – how it works, what the infrastructure requirements are to ingest and process it- rather than the practical uses of it.
So it was very interesting that at a recent meeting with a Chief Data Officer (CDO) of a large Global financial institution, the discussion centered around how one would describe Big Data to non technical business leaders.
This gentleman (who shall sadly remain unnamed for confidentiality purposes) is highly regarded in the industry & someone who came ground up working across areas as diverse as Treasury to Retail Banking to Risk Management. He has stewarded and led a large Enterprise Data program (with effective data governance, quality & security) over the last three years. An expert in high finance yet possessing a strong curiosity for and understanding of technology (& it’s benefits from a competitive standpoint) – a rare mix.
While reminiscing on his journey over the last few years (in transforming the Bank to an information focused enterprise) , he described his succinct view on educating the business on Big Data thus bridging this critical knowledge gap.
It is so simple yet profound a signature statement (delivered with his customary clarity) that I had to post it here for everyone’s benefit.
“If done right, Big Data is like one of those things in life that makes everything better“.
And what are the key benefits as he explains them ?
- Enormous Business Value in a range of areas as diverse as – Defensive (Risk, Fraud and Compliance – RFC ) to Competitive Parity (e.g Single View of Customer) to the Offensive (Digital Transformation across their Retail Banking business)
- Drastically Reduced Time to Market for new business projects
- Hugely Improved Quality & Access to information & realtime analytics for customers, analysts and other stakeholders
- Huge Reduction in CapEx & OpEx spend on data management projects (Big Data augments and even helps supplant legacy investments in MPP systems, Data Warehouses, RDBMS’s etc)
- Becoming the Employer of Choice for talent due to their vocal thought leadership in this field – in areas as diverse as Hadoop, Data Science and Machine Learning
I am truly struck with how refreshing & jargon free this is as an approach – to such an intensely technical subject.
The key here is his describing Big Data as a holistic business strategy (and not yet another tactical IT project) to the Board & Line of Business leaders. Never mind the technology & it’s nitty gritty, it is the ability of the leadership to articulate and orchestrate a response that will differentiate the winners from the also-rans in the long run. As I’ve pointed out before – your Data assets and what you are able to do with them will dictate your organization’s enterprise destiny.