3 Steps to Bigger Data

Curtis Franklin Jr., Executive Editor | 11/15/2013 | 23 comments

Curtis Franklin Jr.
It's time to start treating big data like a call center. Show us the money.

There is no more heavily analyzed business function than the call center. Every call is measured and analyzed, every cost is known, every result put into a spreadsheet for managers to look over and use in decision making. If you believe in a quantifiable business model, then the modern call center is your ideal environment.

To this point big data has been a bit more difficult to quantify. Some of that is the fault of the incoming data: few things in the business world are more "squishy" than social media. But new ways of thinking about data and analytics can make the processes around big data more quantifiable -- and make them a much bigger part of your overall business success.

According to Tom Davenport, a professor at Babson College who also happens to be an expert on data and analytics, it's time for you and your business to enter the world of Analytics 3.0. If you weren't sure that you were thoroughly ensconced in Analytics 1.0, then you've got some catching up to do.

What are the various versions of analytical maturity? I'm so glad you asked. Analytics 1.0, according to Davenport, is what we all grew up thinking of when "decision support" was the topic. If your idea of analytics involves thick paper reports based on internal data, created by white-shirted analysts working in some gloomy dungeon, and delivered weeks or months after the query was made, then you're living in the Analytics 1.0 world of the 1960s. It's hard to figure out the precise value of the analytics because they're so far divorced from action: The value tends to be attributed most often to the decision makers acting on the information rather than the information itself.

If you've made it to Analytics 2.0 then you're solidly in the "big data" camp. Unstructured data manipulated by data scientists using Hadoop means that you're using more data as the foundation for your decisions, but there's still a significant characteristic that 2.0 shares with 1.0: You're still using all this data and all of these tools to tell you what happened in the past. Humans use that information to make decisions about what you're going to do in the future, but there are non-trivial gaps between data gathering and action, though the gaps are probably now measured in days or weeks rather than weeks or months. If you really need to see measurable value from your data, though, you need to step up to Analytics 3.0.

In some ways, Analytics 3.0 is big data with an afterburner, using tons of real data to provide analysis and information almost instantly and (here's the critical piece) at the point where the decision is made. If your salespeople have the ability to make decisions on pricing and service offerings, then information on the customer's accounts, practices, preferences, and history should be put into those employees hands.

Analytics 3.0 requires massive compute power, solid networking infrastructure, and user devices that can access and display information in the most easily understandable form -- but it's also the only form of analytics where you can compare sales before and after, compare results with and without information, and truly put a value on the analysis of data.

If you're interested in learning more about Davenport's take on all this, he took part in a Harvard Business Review webinar that has details. What do you think -- is your business already stepping into the world of Analytics 3.0? If not, what's keeping you from making the move? Let us know -- we can all work together to analyze the reasons in the old-fashioned community way.

— Curtis Franklin, Jr., Executive Editor, Enterprise Efficiency
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View Comments: Newest First | Oldest First | Threaded View
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batye   3 Steps to Bigger Data   12/12/2013 7:03:29 AM
Re: Re : 3 Steps to Bigger Data
yes, you are right, at the same time it would be faster and saves time and money...
SunitaT   3 Steps to Bigger Data   11/21/2013 1:59:31 AM
Re : 3 Steps to Bigger Data
Better analytics improve the ease of decision making. If Analytics 3.0 can get rid of spreadsheets then that would be a welcome change for managers, who spend many nights plodding over data sheets trying to make a decision tree for the next outcome. 
The_Phil   3 Steps to Bigger Data   11/20/2013 7:48:51 PM
Re: Analytics 3.0
Very true. Maybe some of the big financial houses should lease their servers to provide that additional performance boost for things that "really matter".
The_Phil   3 Steps to Bigger Data   11/20/2013 7:47:12 PM
Re: 3 Steps to Bigger Data
Absolutely. I know I'm more likely to stick with the guys that make me feel like I matter as a customer, not just another sale & on to the next one.
shakeeb   3 Steps to Bigger Data   11/20/2013 2:47:33 AM
Re: 3 Steps to Bigger Data
At the same time it is also important analyze these data. it will definitely help the organizations to have clear KPI's in order to measure the customer satisfaction.
shakeeb   3 Steps to Bigger Data   11/20/2013 2:47:09 AM
Re: 3 Steps to Bigger Data
@shehzadi I agree with you. Call centers will receive the customer feedback directly since they contact them for queries. Therefore it is a definite value addition to any organization.  
shakeeb   3 Steps to Bigger Data   11/20/2013 2:46:54 AM
Re: 3 Steps to Bigger Data
@xrecrf456 yes you are correct. Most of the organizations do use this concept in order to measure the customer satisfaction rate. 
Sara Peters   3 Steps to Bigger Data   11/19/2013 1:37:08 PM
Re: Analytics 3.0
@Curt  "The fact that those deep, meaningful insights are happening faster than ever before is the icing on the cake, really." Depending on the situation it's way more than icing. When we did the video documentary about the Translational Genomics Research Institute it really hit me how incredibly important speed can be. Their goal is to be able to analyze huge data sets quickly enough to create personalized treatments for neuroblastoma patients before they die of the disease -- but the disease is VERY aggressive and acts fast. From a research standpoint it's nice to crunch the data and find big insights whenever you can, but from a practical healthcare standpoint, speed is essential.

CurtisFranklin   3 Steps to Bigger Data   11/18/2013 9:35:52 PM
Re: 3 Steps to Bigger Data
@Phil, that's absolutely right, and incredibly insightful: We tend to focus on analyzing data so we can make more initial sales -- in many cases it would be far better to focus our attention on doing what's required to get repeat sales. 

I know a number of high-end retailers and hospitality groups that do this, but it makes sense to allow it to filter down into smaller organizations by using technology to "level the playing field" between smaller and larger enterprises.
CurtisFranklin   3 Steps to Bigger Data   11/18/2013 9:24:19 PM
Re: 3 Steps to Bigger Data
@xrecrf456, the key to what you say is that wonderful meeting of customer satisfaction (and the greater revenue it promises) and tight financial analysis and control. To me, one of the great promises of Analytics 3.0 is that many more customer-facing aspects of the business can be subject to the same analysis -- and therefore be considered to be important in the same way.
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