Stop Playing Whac-a-Mole: Accelerating Time to Answer

February 10, 2013

Ever been in a meeting where everyone is stepping on each other trying to be the first to answer a question? It’s like Whac-a-Mole for grownups.

It’s even worse in the world of big data. Everyone is embracing it – but how fast can you get a meaningful answer?

First, a company needs to prioritize big data projects.

NewVantage Partners interviewed C-level executives at more than 50 enterprise-size companies and found that over 75%   were investing greater than $1 million per year on big data technology. Want to make your eyebrows raise even higher? 25% of large companies were investing more than $10 million! And according to a Computerworld/IDG News Service article on the study, “How to Use Big Data to Make Faster and Better Business Decisions,” their investment is paying off.  “They made it absolutely clear they could not do the programs they were doing without Big Data,” said Paul Barth, founder and managing partner of NewVantage Partners.So what exactly is the benefit behind embracing big data?

Second, how fast can you answer?

According to these surveyed companies, the real value comes from speeding up the time it takes to get to a business decision, or time-to-answer (TTA).

As Barth put it, “If your time-to-answer is 30 minutes in one case and 30 seconds in another, it really changes your business processes. It makes you much more effective as a business analyst.”  Of course, just having more data won’t speed up time-to-answer, and this has implications  across the organization. One flaw in thinking about big data is that it requires separate organizational responsibility and infrastructure. As if data is in a silo. Traditionally, organizations have separated analytics and business intelligence from data management. To improve TTA, the most cutting-edge companies are combining data management, analytics and business intelligence, and all data --  creating a big data “ecosystem”.

What is different about big data is that is can be explored as it arrives, without the need to clean, sort and write complex queries against it. Big data tells us what’s “new,” while enterprise data warehouses and traditional business intelligence tells us what’s “known.” We need both. Getting it to all work together will make us better marketers, and better businesses. And keep Whac-a-Mole in the arcade where it belongs!