The Big Data Conundrum

Big data comes into play when you combine data from multiple sources, systems, and departments. As this begins to happen, you gain insights into the organization that you cannot see by looking at a single source. By combining HR demographic data, training data, engagement scores and the like; with operational and performance data, you’re able to segment the workforce to uncover patterns and trends not easily recognized otherwise.

Death by dashboard was discussed in an earlier post, but basically means that organizations can’t practically use all of the information they have. It comes from disparate sources, much of it is irrelevant, and it’s not synthesized in any useful way. An executive in this position, considering a whole bunch of discrete data sources, is actually ignoring big data. It may seem counter-intuitive: we know there are about a zillion data points out there. Advancements in analytics and technology now allows for the ability see useful integration of all these data points. It’s combining a Facebook profile with the information captured by the customer loyalty card to deliver the right advertisement at the right moment (more about the “creepiness” factor of this in later weeks).

And without looking at the operational performance data, you can’t do any of this analysis; furthermore, the operations team can’t do this analysis without the HR data. While there are often political hurdles to obtaining data you don’t own, it’s worth the effort to overcome them. Big data is more than just data in organizations—it’s a significant cultural change to break down data silos, forge relationships across the organization, and brings together information from disparate sources. As a reward for your efforts, you receive actionable intelligence to help you control and prepare for the future.

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