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Tackling Some of the Most Vexing Problems in Big Data

Alex Ladd, Senior Partner at MindStream Analytics

What significant changes did Big Data segment witness in 2013? What did these changes mean to vendors and customers?

The convergence of social media and data analytics has had a profound effect during 2013.   There are a number of social media growth drivers, but the number of individuals accessing the internet via mobile phone alone has skyrocketed.  Before 2013 was even half over, the number of YouTube videos alone watched  doubled from 3B hours to 6B hours over the prior year.

Firms want to be proactive in reaching out to customers through digital advertising must analyze a great deal more information than simply what they searched for or clicked on while surfing the web – which only a year ago was thought of as more or less a progressive use of analytics.  They must be able to listen to the ‘voice of the customer’ in real time when possible, then be able to take immediate action.  The voice of the customer is useless unless you are ready to take action.  Real-time listening across channels may identify customer interactions – across technology platforms – that can lead to real-time decisions on taking action.  If Mary unsuccessfully tried to download from your web site, then placed an order that could not be fulfilled and then posted a negative comment on Facebook, leveraging technology enabled analytics would signal that an action plan is needed for Mary.  The Company also needs to take into account that all of that interaction that Mary just had with them was via a mobile device, so the action plan needs to tailored to that type of interaction back, a long detailed explanation via an html email with lots of graphics may not present well on a mobile device and only further frustrate Mary.

What are some of the changes you had anticipated would happen in 2013 but did not happen?

I thought that I’d see more of a leadership role in Big Data Analytics coming out of the CFO’s office.  The office of the CFO should no longer be solely focused on running reports and comparing results against key performance indicators.  The CFO of today plays a key role in creating the strategies and funding the operations of the business.  As data is growing at an eye-popping rate, Finance, as the traditional analytic steward of the organization, is a natural cornerstone in understanding how best to apply analytics and how to prioritize handling the magnitude and complexity of data.

Can you paint us the picture of how the landscape for this industry segment will change in 2014? What are some of the broader trends you are closely watching?

Mobile analytics will expand greatly – and may finally help realize that long-held aspiration of business intelligence – to get the information that you want anywhere you need it, whenever you need it.   I see companies adding more mobile capabilities to get more knowledge workers to ‘hop on the boat’ towards a culture of data driven decision-making.  Knowledge workers will only become more tethered to their mobile devices.

How would customer spend change in 2014 for Big Data segment? What makes you think customers will be buying more/ less?

I believe the majority of the spend will evolve around obtaining a unified, real-time view of the customer.  Making real-time decisions requires an optimal blend of predictive analytics from multiple data sources.  Gaining visibility and reducing complexities transcends merely applying technology in silos.   Much of the data is unstructured, and it needs to be analyzed in real-time.

The spend for 2014 will revolve around this – integrating the data silos so that the overall ‘voice of the customer’ is heard.  Today, there may be real-time or near real-time availability in say three different systems, but they may not talk to each other.  Thus, important customer signals are being missed in the ever increasing amounts of data.

The ability to optimize operations within a company typically depends on a decision maker's ability to react upon the right information at the right time.  Information that is delivered on demand and in real-time will increase operating margins and improve process efficiency.  Big Data Analytics in 2014 will aim to enabling you to respond at the moment you need to.

What's in store for your company in 2014?

2014  is going to be an amazingly fun year for our firm.  Our  partnerships with technology firms enable us to take an A-Z approach in tackling some of the most vexing problems in Big Data, from integrating technology silos down to knowledge worker decision-making on mobile devices.   We’ll soar to exciting new heights by taking our customers to new heights in customer retention and engagement.  

It will be a year focused on creating real-time interactions through the channels of our customer’s customer.  We’ll have more in our arsenal than ever before to help our customers analyze data from multiple perspectives as it becomes available, getting them the right information or offer into their hands when they need it.

As all of the three “V's” - variety, volume and velocity - of both structured and unstructured data continues to increase, so does the demand for analytic capabilities to keep up with it all.  We’re in a great position to help our customers transform to the new paradigm.

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