Every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data – so much, that 90% of data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone.
All this big data comes with much hype attached to it. We are constantly being told that big data has the power to change our lives, change how we run our businesses, change how we communicate with our customers, and increase our revenues; but big data is really just a by-product of our changing use of technology and the increasing amount of data we have the ability to collect.
Big data presents both challenges and opportunities to all industries and types of enterprises. In particular, for services organisations, it offers significant new revenue streams.
However, to really use it to its promised potential, businesses must become data-driven. There is little point in having mountains of data without the right analytics to apply to it. The key for services leaders is to understand how exactly Big Data can be translated into business value, through having analytics at its core.
The analytics mind-set
Amongst all the hype, it’s often not clear to organisations what big data and analytics can do for their businesses. For services leaders, there are three clear new revenue channels on offer.
Firstly, it gives them the chance to elevate their roles to that of a thought leader. Secondly, customers will be actively looking for new solutions that allow them to derive value from their data. Thirdly, big data is driving demand for new business roles and new areas of expertise; allowing services companies to broaden the services they offer. But tapping into these new revenue streams requires a sea change in approach.
A ‘management by spread sheet’ approach has for too long been the norm. Leaving data to languish in disparate spreadsheets is not a sustainable business strategy, nor does it allow businesses to fully make use of their data or gain insights from it.
In addition, reviewing spreadsheets for information is a time-consuming process, which hampers the ability of a business to capture and react to key data quickly; analytics, by comparison, provide the rapid visibility that supports business agility. To really use data to fuel transformation and increase revenue, services businesses must define specific analytics that are aligned to their operations and then combine these with a services-led business strategy. To do this successfully requires a shift towards an analytics mind-set, which sees the operations of the business underpinned by powerful analytics.
Broadly, there are three key analytics that are instrumental in the growth and expansion of services organisations: business analytics use fact-based data to measure past performance and stop small problems becoming big problems; customer analytics examine customer conversations to identify trends, gaps and capture sentiment; and consumption analytics track consumption of products and services; determining areas leading or lagging in adoption, or the use of product features.
Once identified, the second aspect of using analytics to transform a business is to determine the approach to these individual analytics groups. There are two high-level approaches to analytics: real-time and batch.
Real-time analytics perform analysis on live data, for example, a services project that is currently in progress, detecting issues or problems as they happen, allowing them to be rectified before they negatively impact the project.
Batch analytics are generally used to identify trends over time or for historical analysis, with one or more data sets scheduled for analysis at a set time. Both these methods have their own advantages and uses in different contexts and their use is determined by the needs of the business.
Analytics for all
Whichever of these two broad approaches that services businesses choose, they are increasingly investing in single, powerful analytics platforms that embed their own internal data; and are moving away from standalone platforms.
In today’s dynamic business environment, analytics can become very complex; aggregating data from multiple projects and applications and in various different formats into a single set for analysis is an intricate challenge.
This is why single analytics platforms that are embedded within core operational systems are growing in popularity; they ensure key data are integrated, not stored in silos where their insights are lost.
These powerful analytics allow service teams to elevate their role with customers and become a trusted advisor, in turn assisting their customers to transform their own businesses.
Adopting this analytics mind-set is the responsibility not just of the chosen few, but of everyone within the organisation, and at all levels. Services businesses must ensure that all members have access to the right technologies that ensure analytics becomes part of their everyday skill-set.
In doing this, services teams will have a better method to achieve customer satisfaction, and to capitalise on revenue opportunities.