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GCN : February 2014
66 To be sure, the technology allows organizations to develop complex computer models and sophisticated simulations that wouldn't have been possible only a few years ago. According to McKinsey, Big Data creates value in several ways. It creates transparency by allowing an organization to zero in on core issues and understand how to operate more efficiently; it enables experimentation and the exploration of what-if scenarios; it allows organizations to segment populations and customize actions; and it replaces or supports human decision-making with automated algorithms. e end result, McKinsey reports, is a culture that ratchets up innovation while reducing risk. Bumpy Road Of course, the path to progress can prove bumpy. CapGemini, in a 2012 report titled e Deciding Factor: Big Data & Decision Making, found that while 65 percent of respondents reported a need to make management decisions based on "hard analytic information," the path to success is paved with more than a few potholes. It seems there currently is some question regarding there being enough practitioners to make it work. "While there's much fuss made about the endless possibilities of what can be done with the streams of data garnered from the web, the hard truth is that few people know what to do with it," as recently noted in the Gizmodo blog. In addition, many organizations fail to view data strategically and are unable to adopt a "Big Data culture." Organizations struggle to make effective use of unstructured data for decision- making --- particularly social media data --- while organizational silos inhibit a more integrated approach to data and analytics. Nevertheless, 65 percent of the respondents asserted that management decisions are increasingly based on "hard analytic information." A best-practice approach to Big Data means combining the right technologies and tools, building and websites. and analytics, Schlesinger says, is master data management (MDM). It's critical to have some type of tool in place to handle the task of governance. "Without governance and a common definition and understanding of data elements it's next to impossible to create an effective strategy." He says that various groups should partake in this process. is typically means cross-functional teams consisting of executives from operations, finance and IT. "You have to have cooperation, communication and buy-in across the organization to map out how data will be used," he notes. Getting a handle on unstructured data is particularly important. When CapGemini examined how organizations use it within an overall Big Data strategy, it found that most executives lack ideas and answers. Overall, 42 percent of executives indicated that unstructured content is too difficult to interpret and 40 percent noted that they have too much unstructured data on hand to support decision-making. e challenge is magnified by the emergence of new types of unstructured data and the need to create metadata classifications that bring substance to the data structure, says Accenture's Curtis. Ultimately, a 360-degree view of the organization effective workflows and policies, finding talent that can tap into analytics and predictive analytics software, and applying the technology to delve beyond the surface and address real problems, notes Kalyan Viswanathan, director for Global Consulting Practices Information Management with Tata Consulting Services. Putting Big Data into Play A starting point for unlocking the full value of Big Data is to create a focused data strategy and an accompanying governance system," Schlesinger says. Organizations should begin by framing challenges within the context of "Big Data" and consider what organizational challenges it can solve. is means examining how the organization acquires data, what systems the data resides in, how the data will be organized and managed, and what overall data roadmap will exist. "It's critical to address these issues in order to get to the point where it's possible to conduct meaningful analysis on all the data," he points out. At the heart of effective Big Data represents a resource from which to extract meaning and drive better decision-making --- all from the proliferation of digital bits and bytes that fill servers, hard drives, mobile devices Big Data " "BIG DATA REPRESENTS A RESOURCE FROM WHICH TO EXTRACT MEANING AND DRIVE BETTER DECISION MAKING ALL FROM THE PROLIFERATION OF DIGITAL BITS AND BYTES THAT FILL SERVERS, HARD DRIVES, MOBILE DEVICES AND WEBSITES.