Steve Weston, chief information officer at Hays, has said the shift from big data 1.0 to big data 2.0 will ensure the issue is on the agenda for businesses for some time to come.
“Significant, real benefits will soon be commonplace across the business world,” he says. “I see 2017 as a landmark year for data where those companies that take the right steps will be best placed to reap the rewards, both in the next twelve months and beyond.”
Steve recommends these considerations taken into account in order for businesses to ensure they are ready to make the most of their data.
• Is Your Data Big Enough?
Companies must evaluate their expectations when it comes to Big Data and not expect immediate results. Data’s biggest opportunity is identifying patterns that allow businesses to outperform in the future. Allowing time, sometimes years, to build a system that works for that business, ensuring there is enough information and then examining the data will not happen overnight.
Steve adds: “Businesses that believe they can invest ‘X’ amount in a data programme and yield results within months must reign in their expectations and take a more realistic, measured and long term approach. Big Data needs to be big, and many companies have simply been trying to change the world with a small pool.”
• Do You Have the Right People?
Having the information to mine and the tools to make sense of it won’t provide results alone. Being able to take full advantage of data relies on the people a business hires. With still relatively new roles, such as data scientists, being so sought after, this has started a war for talent. To ensure they are attracting the very best talent businesses must therefore be prepared to look at their offering to candidates. Considering the use of contractors as a way of ensuring they have the skills when they need them is one approach that could be taken.
Once an organisation has the right people they can’t just drop them into the business and expect them to revolutionise it from there. They must be able to communicate with other areas of the business and it’s important that other departments have an understanding of data too. Steve explains, “You need data-savvy people in all of the traditional functions – accountancy, marketing, sales – who can act as a bridge between this wealth of information and their own department.
“By working alongside each other day-to-day, they help others in the department understand data, what they can demand and how they can implement it into their more traditional function.”
• Do You Have the Appropriate Tools?
In order to make sure a business is capturing information correctly, as well as fully utilising existing data, the wider workforce must have access to the best tools. By investing in the right technology businesses will ensure the data is accessible to more employees.
Steve says: “If you invest in a modern analytics platform, your staff won’t need to know how to write code or programme – they can often simply drag and drop items to log data, search the platform intuitively to identify specific information or produce simple visualisations of complex data. By focusing on making the most appropriate tools available, you can make data accessible for everyone in your business.”
AI and machine learning will push the possibilities further and drive the use of big data forward in 2017, with companies that began investing in data years ago now looking at how they can get the most value from it.
Using Hays as an example; Steve says: “Here at Hays we could use our data to identify a client’s ideal candidate through patterns in job history and qualifications and create a succinct shortlist of candidates from a database of ten million. Put simply, AI makes the impact of Big Data even bigger.”
Despite the important role technology plays it doesn’t mean the end of human involvement. While technology enables us to work smarter and faster, it works better when it compliments, rather than replace the human element.
Steve also warns that businesses who fail to act on their data could come to regret it in the future: “Those organisations that disregard data do so at their peril. If companies don’t use 2017 to hire vital tech natives, train existing teams or invest in the right tools to collect, interpret, analyse and act on the information available to them, they will only fall further behind their competitors.”