Accelerate innovation with big data analytics

The time to modernize is now


Since I started publishing this journal of case studies several years ago, I’ve always written about the transformative impact of big data analytics. I’ve been sharing best practices and industry insights, but I’m now often asked, how? How can organizations transform for tomorrow while still focusing on success today? How can employees stop wasting time on the old legacy systems and move to current and future states without running the risk of disruptions?

In this issue of Intelligence Quarterly, I’ve set out to answer that question – showing you how to leverage big data analytics to come out ahead, no matter what your legacy is.

With big data comes big challenges and even bigger opportunities. Social data, mobile data and sensor data are just a few of the newer data sources that – when properly analyzed – can help improve your business in many ways. Yet many organizations find themselves entangled with dysfunctional legacy systems that get in the way of innovation.

It’s true that technology is the foundation for and the driver of innovation, but just like weeds can choke out new grass, outdated technology can stifle innovation.

When you develop a culture that adopts newer skills and technologies, your ability to innovate increases. Then those innovations generate even more skills and technologies. The wheel keeps turning. And advancements keep happening. When analytics skills and technologies are being applied, we see changes progressing in four steps:

  1. Modernizing with analytics gives you the ability to trust the numbers and rely on a single version of the truth. That’s what Italian credit agency Agos Ducato needed when it acquired another big lender, and what Wyndham Exchange & Rentals needed for its vacation ownership exchange, where the ability to create models based on information you already have is crucial.
  2. Integration of analytics into business processes can help spread analytics throughout the organization. The democratization of analytics happens through data visualization and automation. For example, Taipei Medical University uses visual analytics to dig deeper into daily revenue and expense trends. Visualization is widely considered to be a top technique for gaining the most value from big data. To close the gap between analytics and business users, visualize the data. Professor Bart Baesens explains more in a recent interview.
  3. Innovation, as we discussed above, is both a product and an enabler of technology. An important function of technology is that it gives us the ability to do things that previously were not possible. I have seen many mature analytics implementations in the telecom industry over the last few months. Processing speeds have gone from hours to seconds, while total cost of ownership has been reduced by millions of dollars. One CEO told me his company’s earnings increased 30 percent as a result of running 1,000 micro-campaigns created from 5,000 models daily! He promised to share his story with us in an upcoming issue.
  4. Transformation takes place when organizations have mastered modernization, integration and innovation. Businesses in this phase have reached a point where both integration and innovation occur in tandem. Two decades ago, online advertising was just an idea. Today, it is a fast-growing, rapidly developing industry thanks to the ability technology has given us to turn data into insight and, as you’ll read in the article, "Moving beyond the ad server," new revenue streams through software as a service.

How can you modernize your organization? Consider how to leverage newer technologies like grid, high-performance analytics and Hadoop. Delve into your existing processes and see where analytics can be integrated seamlessly to increase value in your organization. Consider how you can use analytics to innovate in your industry with new products and services. Finally, use analytics to transform your company to create a new market that never existed before.

The time to modernize is now. Those who don’t risk being left behind in our increasingly dynamic and interconnected world. As you will see in the following pages, our challenges are growing more complex, but the potential for data to provide knowledge and insight to tackle these challenges is growing just as quickly – if not faster.

Unlike other technology-driven innovations, modernization does not start with growing your IT budgets. Most of our successful customers report substantial total cost savings from the very beginning. Modernization is about smaller, smarter, more strategic engagements that yield immediate value and provide a path to accelerate innovation.

With analytics entering a new, more powerful era, modernization is now at the forefront. Exploit the countless, value-laden opportunities for accelerating innovation using big data analytics. Consider how you can help your organization improve performance, transform your business and turn big data into big dollars. At the same time, you’ll create a better experience for customers and clients and a great place to work for your employees, one that stands out in every way.

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As head of an expanding global team of 5,000 professionals in 48 countries, Mikael Hagstrom is passionate about providing a culture where innovation can flourish, resulting in market leadership for the organization and its customers. He leads SAS’ Europe, Middle East, Africa (EMEA) and Asia Pacific regions, which account for more than half of SAS’ total revenue.

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