How did big data start?

Big data: How companies benefit from the diversity of data

A retail company reduces the number of goods returned by discovering and resolving the causes of the returns. A bank creates tailor-made offers by responding flexibly to the changing living conditions of its customers and aligning its offers accordingly. A manufacturing company optimizes its processes by fully utilizing the machines, systems and employees and simulating its complex production processes in order to detect weak points. Beautiful new world? Big data makes it possible.

The trending word big data describes the phenomenon of rapidly growing data volumes, sources and structures. For example, “Like” is clicked 50,000 times per second on Facebook; in one minute, 72 hours of new video will be uploaded to YouTube. Data volumes of this magnitude can no longer be stored, processed and analyzed with the capacity and ability of classic database software tools. When properly evaluated and used, this variety of data offers every company numerous opportunities.

The opportunities of big data: Become more efficient and stand out from the competition

“By using big data, companies gain new insights with which they can improve their strategic and operational control, for example with regard to risk minimization, customer loyalty, market positioning or increased profits. Thanks to the knowledge that is contained in the large amounts of data, companies can become more efficient and stand out from the competition, ”says Michael Rasch, partner at PwC and Digital Transformation Leader Germany, summarizing the advantages.

“In order to optimally use the potential of Big Data, however, a well thought-out digital value creation strategy is required. The starting point for the questions to which big data projects should find answers is always the corporate strategy, ”he adds. “The analysis of the relevant data gives companies an overview and brings transparency to business processes and the market situation. In this respect, big data projects can provide corporate management with a sound basis for their decisions, ”says the expert.

Seven steps to a digital value creation strategy

In the white paper “Big Data - Significance, Benefits, Added Value”, the PwC experts describe how big data projects can be planned in a targeted manner and implemented profitably. The publication goes into detail on the strategic approach in big data projects: from the formulation of strategic goals to a business case, the necessary understanding of data and the appropriate technology to the analysis and interpretation of the results and the changes or adjustments based on them the company processes.

These are the advantages of big data projects:

  • Create a clear basis for decision-making
  • Optimize business processes
  • Calculate risks
  • Increase profitability
  • Align optimally with the customer
  • Uncover undiscovered market potential

The white paper describes the technological tools that are suitable for the implementation of big data projects. It also looks at how companies from individual industries can benefit from the findings of such data analyzes.

Some selected industry examples at a glance:

  • A telecommunications provider creates holistic customer analyzes in order to align its tariffs with customer wishes and habits. Attractive tariffs not only increase customer loyalty; the company is also gaining new customers.
  • A company in the logistics sector implements a track-and-trace application. In this way, the entire logistics process can be represented clearly. Real-time monitoring around the clock creates transparency and reduces process risks.
  • A bank forecasts risks individually and defines risk premiums flexibly. This has advantages in terms of credit default risks.

Data scientists play a central role

However, even the best technology is of no use if it lacks a clever mind that can ask the right questions and evaluate the results. The PwC experts advocate relying on data scientists for these difficult projects. The battle for the most capable minds among data scientists has long since begun. The demands on this relatively new professional group are high: data scientists must have technical understanding and IT skills as well as social skills, the ability to think associative and a comprehensive understanding of business processes. It is open where this employee is, ideally, in organizational terms. Because every department can benefit from the findings from big data.