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The Big Data Journey: Transforming Businesses One Step at a Time

October 12, 2017

The Big Data Journey: Transforming Businesses One Step at a Time

6 Minute Read

Businesses are inundated with vast amounts of information. There is greater volume of data available than ever before. Big data is everywhere, and it’s receiving a lot of attention.

Richard Arthurs
Richard Arthurs, CPA, CMA, MBA, CFE, CIA, CRMA, QIAL
Partner, National Leader - Internal Audit
Businesses are inundated with vast amounts of information. There is greater volume of data available than ever before. Big data is everywhere, and it’s receiving a lot of attention.

Companies in every industry can benefit – and even be transformed – by using data to improve customer satisfaction, lower costs and improve revenue. Big data can provide critical insights that drive the development of new products and help business make better decisions.

More Affordable and Available for Every Business

It’s not the data alone that has the power to transform businesses. It’s the ability to analyze the information and harness meaningful insights that makes all the difference.

Fortunately, with new technology and lower pricing, data analytics is within the reach of even the smallest operations. Cloud computing has made access and storage of data much more affordable. Analytics software is readily available and at the fraction of what it cost ten years ago.

Yet big data may still be a mystery to many businesses. It may seem like an intimidating proposition leaving many unsure where to even begin.

The Big Data Journey

The beauty of big data is in the journey. Data analytics can be described as different levels of maturity in terms of how the information is processed. Predictive analytics may be the best known and most lucrative form of big data analysis, but it is also the most mature form and not recommended as first foray into a big data project.

Instead, companies should better understand the different levels of data analysis:

  • Descriptive analytics can provide a picture or overview of existing trends within a company or an industry
  • Diagnostic analytics can provide an explanation of data trends. This is often used for to uncover fraud in investigations, decipher accounting errors, uncover cost inefficiencies and gain an understanding of demographic customer behaviours
  • Predictive analytics allows businesses to predict future trends based on past events

Big data is not a one size fits all proposition. Different companies require different levels of maturity before they can advance in applying big data to their businesses.

Overcoming the Challenges

Although predictive analytics may be the most attractive form of data analysis, there is tremendous value in starting out with the basics. The insights from descriptive or diagnostic analytic projects can be used to make important decisions based on solid facts. Businesses can then evolve their data analysis maturity over time to dig deeper into the information available.

As with any technology, data analytics comes its own challenges. Most businesses in Canada are still immature in their analytics use; even the most advanced organizations are, by some estimates, up to five years behind their US counterparts. This lag may be partly due to failures of implementation. Companies start off with a project that’s either too large or too mature. If the project does not yield expected or particularly useful results, data analysis may be abandoned.

A poor understanding of long-term benefits and immediate gains available through evaluation of analytical data, trends and predictions may also be a contributing factor. Despite offering tremendous benefits, many companies may need to overcome entrenched attitudes before successfully adopting big data a useful tool – as company culture remains the most entrenched impediment to its widespread, successful adoption.

These challenges require businesses to employ greater awareness in how they select initiatives and which projects should earn the necessary time, money and resources. Although embarking on a big data journey comes with challenges, the greater risk would be to forego journey altogether.

Start Today – Before the Competition Does

Big data and data analytics is the new reality for business. The amount of available data is growing exponentially. The development of new technologies like the Internet of Things will only increase the amount of data available. Competitors are leveraging this valuable trove of information. Companies that ignore this trend will be left behind.

Tomorrow’s technology is shaping business today, as big data becomes more widely available for companies of all sizes, your business can’t afford to be left behind. To get started with your own big data project, contact Richard Arthurs, National Leader – Data and Information Dynamics at 587.702.5978 or [email protected].


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