Incorta Insight

Re-thinking four decades of business intelligence and analytics.

December 09, 2016  ·  by: Bill Witte  ·  Blog

Enterprise Analytics: Is Big Data Really the Big Value?

It seems every week you hear about a new enterprise analytics offering that’s focusing on “Big Data.” Yet another solution entering an already crowded, cluttered space, promising to turbocharge your business by giving you insight that’s derived only from analyzing ALL the data in your company.

But is that really what you need? Despite all the hype, your most important data continues to be the core, transactional business data that drives your business day-to-day. Effectively analyze, understand and act upon what it tells you, and you’ll immediately, substantially impact your business in a positive way.

If this is true (which, I assure you, it is), why does Big Data continue to garner so much attention? And how can you figure out how to most efficiently grow your business without false-starting down the Big Data path?

Big Data Gives Rise to Big Expectations

Before the Big Data era, companies were hampered in their ability to make data-driven decisions across their business. Data available for capture was limited by the technologies in use at the time. And expensive storage fees prohibited most companies from wanting to store and analyze massive amounts of data anyway. Given the unproven ROI of such an approach, they just couldn’t justify the upfront storage expense.

But then Big Data burst onto the scene, igniting people’s imaginations. What’s now possible seems to have no boundaries. New technologies let you capture and analyze information you simply couldn’t get at before, giving you the potential to know things you’ve wanted to understand for years.

Clearly Big Data offers both appeal and promise. So what’s not to like?

But Big Data Doesn’t Always Equal Big Value

Unfortunately, the limitless nature of Big Data is also its biggest issue.

As a sales executive, I commonly hear the analogy of how sales people can be distracted by “the next shiny thing.” It’s true to some extent. Our jobs require us to push the envelope, to constantly exceed our previous accomplishments, to challenge the status quo.

Big Data is this “next shiny thing” for many companies. There’s a lot of hype around it—some well-earned, some not—and it often has a bit of a science experiment feel to it. Cool, new tools give you the sense that you, too, are mere steps away from jumping on the Big Data bus and getting unlimited insights from all your data.

Yet anyone who’s spent any time at all in our industry knows this is not the case.

  • Most companies need to invest Herculean effort to analyze Big Data, thanks to data scale, data complexity and the functional immaturity of many Big Data offerings
  • Existing data sources still are not fully utilized for real-time business insight
  • Business users are frustrated and paralyzed by difficult analytic tools requiring assistance by already over-burdened data scientists
  • And not only do backlogs still exist, but they’re growing faster than ever

If this sounds like your company, don’t let the next shiny thing called “Big Data” distract you; it’s not where you’ll realize the most value from organizational data right now.

What Matters Most in Enterprise Analytics: Real Data

Studies consistently show that 90% of the data most valuable to your organization is notwhat’s commonly referred to as “Big Data.” What drives your business is the core operational data—often that boring, traditional, relational database data—that’s in your business today and has been there for years. Financial data. Sales forecasts. HR/payroll data. Supply chain data. Inventory data. You get the idea.

There's certainly immense value in what Big Data can offer. But it’s not a cure for analytic needs left unmet for years. Simply put: figure out how to best leverage the operational data you’ve had forever, and you’ll likely generate more business value than your first few, expensive forays into Big Data could ever deliver.

Luckily, there’s affordable enterprise analytics technology in the market today that makes it easier than ever to achieve results, in record time, even when dealing with large amounts of complex business data.

Think you might want to give it a try? Here are the top three things to consider as you research technology options:

  • Don’t assume you need a data warehouse. Data warehouse vendors did a great job convincing the market that the only way to analyze large amounts of data from different data sources was by moving all of it to a data warehouse. While data warehouses will always have a place in the world, in most cases, you can select an appropriate solution (such as that offered by my company Incorta) that frees you from the lengthy, never-ending task of building or maintaining an expensive data warehouse—all while giving you the insight you crave more quickly and affordably.
  • You should be able to roll out new enterprise analytics features in minutes or hours—not weeks or months. Don’t consider or stick with technology that requires your business users to wait weeks or months while you build out their requests. That’s not acceptable anymore. Take Broadcom, for example. Faced with set-in-stone data warehouse schemas and hardware, simply adding a column to an existing report took 8-12 weeks. After switching to our Incorta analytics technology, business users now make that kind of change themselves, within just hours.
  • Don’t short-list analytics technology that requires you to buy expensive, purpose-built hardware. It used to be that the only way to achieve reasonable query response performance for data-intense, operational analytics was to invest in very expensive, purpose-built hardware. But Incorta took a different approach to that, too. Thanks to the way we designed our analytics technology, you can enjoy equivalent (or often even better) performance when using inexpensive, commodity hardware.

Big Data so quickly took hold of the market that it eclipsed much of the existing, legacy business data problems from which most companies still suffer. Exciting as Big Data might be, like anything, it’s important—and usually more profitable—to take care of the fundamentals first. Back to the basics, as they say. With Incorta, there’s now a fresh way to deliver fast, splashy analytic results using your “basic” data, and bettery yet, make your core business users incredibly happy.

Want to learn more about Incorta’s real-time, no-data-warehouse analytics technology? Contact me directly at bill.witte@incorta.com.

“I’m a huge fan of Incorta. It’s saving our team an entire week’s
worth of time each month, which means we can perform ad hoc analysis that
improves department performance.”

Jennifer Dirico, Financial Planning and Analysis Manager - Toast