By Daniel Hunter

UK businesses are spending so much time gathering customer and competitive data that they risk losing sight of the information that can genuinely build market share as they try to survive continued economic uncertainty, according to KPMG Management Consulting.

Speaking ahead of the Big Data Analytics 2012 conference in London, Eddie Short, partner and head of business intelligence at KPMG, says: “If businesses remain intent on winning some sort of data ‘arms race’ - gathering more insight on past, present and future customers than the next man — then they need to understand that this particular race has already been lost. Thanks to the world of social media, organisations such as Amazon, Google and Facebook already know more about most companies’ customers than they do themselves.

“Yet the problem is that C-level execs continue to scream for more data, believing it to be the panacea for all business ills. Not so long ago it may have been true to say that information equalled power, but the knowledge organisations have now represents a fraction of the total information available. That’s why successful businesses will be those who accept that power actually comes from what they do with the vast pool of information at their disposal.

“As we strive for economic recovery the businesses that will grow will be those who stop gathering and spend more time understanding the data they already possess. Being prepared to ask ‘why’ rather than spending time demanding to know ‘more’ will ensure that genuine insights can be gleaned and followed up.

“The real data ‘arms race’ is, after all, less about building data and more about creating sound data-driven processes which underpin core business operations. After all, it’s too easy to think of big data around the three V’s of velocity, volume and variety. What matters more is the ‘value’ that huge amounts of data can bring. Until businesses understand this, their inability to meet customer needs will continue to harm the bottom line.”

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