By George Davies, CEO, MooD International

‘Big data’ are the IT buzzwords of the moment, with companies both excited and intimidated in equal measure by how much intelligence can be gleaned from this resource. And rightly so, the world generates 5 exabytes of data every two days — roughly the same amount created between the dawn of civilisation and 2003 — so it is a challenge to identify what information is useful and what is irrelevant.

A report by The Economist Intelligence Unit found that there is a strong link between financial performance and the effective use of big data and that companies become successful at exploiting data by focusing on business priorities. However an Accenture report says that only 39 per cent of companies have data “relevant to the business strategy.”

To avoid this there are three things businesses can look at right away to start using data more effectively:

1. Instead of looking at the information at the source and working upwards to the business objectives, the people tasked with gathering the data should be looking at what the company wants to achieve, then identify the information needed to assess whether they’re on track. Only this data is needed to move the business forward. One of our clients is a life insurance company and they have used our solution to review their IT systems to find which were the popular systems were and which ones people didn’t like using. They were then able to cut out the systems that people didn’t like and make big savings to the bottom-line.

2. Data sets are often in no fit state to draw relevant information from. However it’s a big mistake to try and clean years of backdated data. Again, look at your objectives and work backwards from there. Once you know what you’re trying to achieve, and what information you need to achieve it, you can then clean the relevant data. This also helps going forward as you know which data needs to be of high quality. You can then put effort into making sure it is.

3. Attention should be given as to how big data gets into the system. If there is a process where data is transferred manually from one part of the business to another, this can cause problems. Where at all possible, data should be pulled from the source, this minimises the chance of human error compromising the data and therefore the results. By using technology that connects directly with the data source, businesses can generate higher quality data.

Despite what technology companies would have you believe it’s a targeted, business-led approach to data that is most important. It will mean you can use the data rather then be led or overwhelmed by it. Equally you will able to make smarter business decisions more quickly which is critical because as we all know, business leaders don’t have 12, 18 or 24 months to wait, they need solutions in weeks and months.

Digital Marketing moves at lightening pace and marketers need access to the latest information and advice – a new event – The Digital Marketing Show is taking place in Excel, London in November – If you want to speak or exhibit at the Digital Marketing Show visit www.digitalmarketingshow.co.uk or call Ray on 0845 5000 328

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