Big data spells big things for the future of business. For some, the advent of big data represents a threat to human input. In actuality, the unique challenges posed by massive amounts of information make human insights more valuable than ever.
This week, I had the privilege of addressing an audience of data enthusiasts, tech experts, and business professionals at the Big Data Toronto conference to discuss MeetVibe’s philosophy on analytics. Other speakers included Dell, IBM and Tableau Software. MeetVibe is a social scheduling tool designed to help users make the best use of their time. We make the best use of our time by leveraging existing data to learn how to make MeetVibe better for its users. An essential takeaway from the presentation is this: big data analytics are vital to successful decision-making.
Making smart decisions is a skill that can be learned. Individuals arrive at better decisions by considering the long term, viewing their organization from an outside perspective, and embracing the positive possibilities of change. Most importantly, effective decisions are made when there is collaboration and convergence among team members and customers, be they current or future.
But this is easier said than done. By design, institutions do not like change, and they are even less fond of experimentation. In fact, in many organizations few employees agree with each other and colleagues can hold views that differ by as much as 45-50 percent. Evidently, if convergence is helpful for drawing useful insights from data, companies have a rocky road ahead of them.
Presently, the world is in the early stages of tapping into the full potential of big data. While companies like Google dedicate enormous resources to sifting big data for gold, only 16% of companies in Canada have the human resources available to tackle big data initiatives. This brings me to an interesting point. The most common obstacle to successful analytics is not technology – it’s a lack of collaboration.
To put a finer point on it: a lack of cross-team integration and public engagement is killer to productive information gathering and sharing when it comes to decision-making.
At MeetVibe, our approach prioritizes this collaborative attitude. First, powerful insights are achieved through information sharing. MeetVibe employs a hub-and-spoke data-gathering model to facilitate an open dialogue within our global team. Everything related to our data analysis is available in real time. Through our comprehensive dashboard, team members have a collective space to access information and provide input from anywhere in the world.
In fact, the creation of such a space – physical or digital – is vital for making important decisions about data at extreme scales.
We also take this collaborative attitude into our product. Consider mobile phones. According to Kevin Talbot, a co-founder and Managing Partner at Relay Ventures, there are more mobile devices than people. Approximately one-third of those devices are smartphones. Our devices provide us with tremendous access to information and each other, as well as an all-purpose “hub” for our personal and professional lives.
We communicate with loved ones, run our businesses, and manage our finances straight from our phones. For such small devices, they sure do carry some big data. Our users can tap into that data to share their profiles, contact information, calendar availability, and even location information with friends, family, colleagues or new people around them.
The future of business intelligence lies in figuring out how to turn this information overload into actionable knowledge. The current challenge is figuring out how to distinguish the signals from the noise while maintaining privacy.
In our current knowledge-based economy, there is a premium on those who can make better, more sophisticated decisions. How can this be achieved? Obsessively analyzing all the available data not only leads to burn out but can also result in false positives. When we combine raw data with inquiry and engagement, we garner more valuable information.
Technology and big data helps ensure the feedback is provided independently which avoids group think bias. It is the convergence of engagement with human insights and big data capabilities that bring value and actionable information.
Download my Small Devices, Big Data SlideShare presentation.
Also published on Medium.