You’ve probably heard the old adage that people use only 10% of their brains. The myth persists, despite multiple scientific studies that have proven this statement false. Why? Because most of us recognize that we could—and should—do more to expand our knowledge and exercise our cognitive abilities.
Like our brains, technology is usually capable of doing more than we ask of it. Consider your smartphone. It offers a surprising amount of computing power, yet most of us rarely use it for more than basic communication. The same can be said for analytics. Few companies, in my opinion, truly maximize their use of existing analytics tools so they’re missing out on some or all of the benefits that data-driven innovation can deliver to every level of their organization.
The commonality between brains and analytics is that raw processing power by itself is not enough. You have to use that power in a way that produces results. A brain cell, in isolation, can’t do much. However, connect several billion brain cells and suddenly you have the ability to speak, dream, create and derive meaning out of millions of daily inputs.
Similarly, the big data craze has spawned many new technologies. Yet the real value is found in the way those technologies connect with each other as well as to tools and applications so they can deliver valuable insights. Is Apache™ Hadoop® interesting because you can store lots of data very inexpensively in its native format? Of course. But does it become more valuable when that data can be processed to find signals among the noise, and then connected to your data warehouse for a better view of, say, customer behavior? Absolutely.
Show Business Value
A few years ago, organizations might have been asking how to gather enough data to make sound business decisions. Today, having enough data certainly is not an issue. Data is everywhere. The big paradigm shift is that it’s now more critical than ever to understand how to consume all that information in a scalable and predictable fashion so we can tie it back to real business value and ROI.
Some organizations are in denial about the need for improved data analytics or their lack of strategic vision. They may not even realize how far behind the competition they are or understand the role data can play in changing that reality.
Other companies get it right and are proactively looking for ways to make the most of their existing analytics infrastructure. They have the discipline to look at data strategically. They’ve made the investment in the tools and processes that can deliver that strategic vision. They’re also continuing to look for new ways to leverage data and analytics to create new insights and innovation.
Leverage Current Capabilities
There are three truths every business should take to heart in order to maximize their existing analytics capabilities, regardless of where they are on the path to data-driven innovation:
- Volume matters. Keep all raw data you can. It is the ore that you mine to discover analytic gold. No data is too small—or too big—to store and analyze later. The insights you uncover can change and improve the way you do business.
- Strategy comes first. Don’t think in terms of applications. Rather, think in terms of data. There is no need to modify your data or analytic requirements to “fit” into any one application. Instead, find, create or modify the tools you need to turn your information into actionable insights.
- Access is critical. Get as many eyes on the data as possible—in a way that ensures privacy and security, of course—so they can look for things that are interesting and applicable to them. Remember, IT staff, application vendors and CEOs don’t have all the great ideas. Encourage others to experiment with the data.
Reach For More
Data has the power to drive innovation, reinvent your business, and tap into newfound opportunities and revenue streams–but only if you have the analytic tools, strategies and, perhaps more importantly, the corporate mentality to make the most of the information you have now and will gather in the future.
Don’t settle for less the full value from your data and analytics tools. Work them harder; push them further. Like using more than a small portion of your brain to expand your individual knowledge, use your analytics capabilities to their greatest capacity to drive innovation, increase your business potential, grow revenues and gain a competitive advantage.
This story originally appeared in the Q4 2014 issue of Teradata Magazine.