The inevitability of the rise of big data was determined nearly 30 years ago when Sam Walton’s Retail Link, which collected sophisticated consumer information using product bar codes, made Walmart a pioneer in data-driven management and delivered significant business and competitive advantages. Today, Facebook, Google and Amazon rely on data collection, aggregation and analysis as strategic to their businesses. Because of this, they easily justify huge investments in the technologies and processes required to gain a greater and timelier understanding of the buying patterns and sentiments of customers and users. It allows these companies to optimize promotional campaigns, improve customer experiences, enhance product mixes, and discover other significant competitive advantages.
With so many benefits to gain, most companies would have launched their own “big data” initiatives long ago except that until recently, few companies could commit the necessary resources to create a data-driven organization. Today, however, affordable big data solutions are allowing organizations of all sizes and across all industries, including the public sector, to benefit from big data and analytics. This means the race is on to take full advantage of the tangible value of data and gain a competitive edge. But is your company really ready for an information deluge? The painful reality is that it probably isn’t.
Most enterprises are saddled with complex, disparate and distributed operations. Across the organization, various initiatives are launched, technologies are deployed, and information is collected. Rarely is there a centralized, consistent approach to data collection, which means the company ends up with multiple disconnected information stores, and too often this information is not shared in any meaningful way. One part of the company may have no idea what information initiatives are active in another part, leading to duplication of effort and inconsistent policies and processes when it comes to regulatory compliance and records retention. And the more information the company collects, the more damaging the situation can be.
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