Why is business so complex now? Why do we spend so much time cross-referencing expertise in business now days? With psychologists, mathematical scientists, did business digress? Now I don’t mean ‘simple’ in terms of its ‘global span’ or even the profound obsession with ‘profitability’ throughout those global corporations. But I mean the decisions that used to be made with four marketing professionals in a small smoky room. I can tell you why it isn’t simple now and it all boils down to two words – big data.
Both academically and professionally, we have all either heard or regard this new marketing phenomenon as the burning essence of modern business.
So, we have all heard the term ‘big data’, but what exactly is it? Well there are many definitions; I’ve come across around eight in total. My favorite is by far this one: ‘analyzing data that was previously ignored because of technology limitations’. Matt Aslett’s ideology refers to big data as an opportunity for business, which is the context it is most scholarly used. The most generic way of describing big data is a mass of unorganized data, which can be collected from a range of areas, one of which is for example, social media. This is then collected and run through specialist software developed from companies like IBM to make marketing decisions through complex algorithms.
Is it really that affective? Well according to Harvard Business Review (HBR), it is the sexiest new business revelation that hit us business enthusiasts with a bang. HBR states that with big data comes big responsibility. Although a very scientific field, you would assume that this data is so reliable and so magnificent that it can cure diseases. Well not quite. The only this that’s being assumed is the outcome that this data can change. Let us track back for a second, PEST (LE). Now data may be reliable, but there is no way in hell that it can be literal and certain. With political events, the economy, sociological and technological factors ever changing, it simply impossible for data to be relied completely upon.
Alex Pentland, the Toshiba professor of media arts and science at MIT, suggests that with the companies not owning the data, where does that data come from? With all of this responsibility, is the data even dependable? As business professionals and academics, we can all come across data and assume that it is reliable. After all, who would spend all of this time and effort gathering data that isn’t reliable right? This is not about reliable data, neither is it about assumptions. What it is about is security and as a business, using time efficiently. As a result, there is now a ‘new deal on data’, in order to reform the way in which data is used, Pentland has projected set principles and practices to define the ownership of data and where it has come from to ensure it’s worthiness.
What I am trying to poke at is its worth? Yes big data has made some incredible advancement. With IBM aiming to make millions through new growth areas such as cloud and big data, it cannot be worthless. However, there is a difference between getting carried away. For example, Harvard Business Review conducted a study on a retailer, and found that their analysis of big data showed that they could increase profitability substantial amounts by extending the time products were on the floor before and after discounting. However, this would have required a complete redesigning of supply chain. Henceforth some of the data will point to decisions that a business plainly cannot make.
Am I slating big data? Will I ignore it? No. I just think that there is more too modern business than just that. I am flying out to New York on the 17th of March from Chicago to complete a course in big data. I am not critical at all; I just know that there is a bigger picture. I know that it will play a large part in my job as a digital marketer. I know that I will have to cross paths with it many times, and that it could potentially control my job. But I am aware that it is a balancing act. I do not think that the old smoky room should go away. Take away the stigma and what do you get – great minds who know precisely what the company needs. Combine this with data, which is an advancement of modern business, you then have a great strategy to implement with the use of both.
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