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Big Data: Impacting All Areas of a Business

By   /  October 10, 2012  /  2 Comments

by Anjul Bhambrhi

Organizations today operate in a world of increased complexity and an abundance of available information. This makes data – and big data specifically — the newest and most valuable natural resource to organizations, no matter which industry.

The opportunities that big data presents address the highest-priority issues of C-suite decision makers. Every CEO is exploring how big data technologies can help better manage financial performance, improve customer relationships and boost revenues.  However, big data doesn’t only affect the CEO – big data, and the insights that can be gleaned from it, are impacting all departments that make up an organization.

Here are four lines of business that are most affected by big data and are able to identify insights that help the overall organization increase profits, move into new markets, and achieve a competitive advantage.


  • Marketing:  In the last six to twelve months, the greatest number of big data use cases for the enterprise is in the marketing department. Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) are actively gleaning the textual value coming out of streams of data generated by social media, trying to better understand what consumers are talking about. Then, they need to decide what to do with this information. By using real-time analytics, CMOs can actually predict the precise moments to engage customers with the right information or the right suggestion in a personalized, authentic way.

    It is becoming increasingly important for CMOs to become data scientists themselves.  In terms of observing and discovering, they are the subject matter experts and can see and identify patterns that can transform the organization. In fact, by 2017, the head of marketing, not the head of technology, will be the biggest buyer of technology at a typical organization according to Gartner. With big data, the CMO can shape everything from how brands interact with customers, to the products and services they offer, to the structure of the company itself. This influx of data is now holding CMOs accountable for business results tied to technology investments and long-term growth beyond marketing campaigns. Because of this, we’re beginning to see CMOs and CIOs forging new relationships to better reach business goals.


  • Finance:  Financial information is growing at an astounding rate of 70 percent each year, according to IBM research. Intricate data sets have to be collected and cross-referenced against analyst reports, economic market data, financial reports, news stories, board notes and company balance sheets. Big data analytics allows for increased insight, visibility and control over financial performance with predictive capabilities applied to key metrics and data on past performance. The predictive analytics, combined with what-if analysis, and traditional business intelligence in an executive-style dashboard, guides users with root-cause analyses. Organizations can uncover relationships among performance metrics, anticipate performance gaps and assess alternatives with scenario planning.


  • Human Resources:  Big data is becoming a vital tool to modern human resources departments. By embracing the potential of big data, HR professionals can benefit from predictive insights on marketplace developments, employee retention and risk management to enhance the strategic value and improve the overall efficiency of the HR department.  Knowing how to collect, analyze and interpret large volumes of semi structured and unstructured data allows for better decision-making, as well as helps HR directors stay informed of competitors’ global hiring and firing activities. It also allows them to anticipate and react to the competitive poaching of top talent.

    In addition, big data can allow the organization to assess the impact of its HR strategy by analyzing employee attrition rates, and benchmarking compensation levels with competitors, which is made possible by collecting and analyzing data from an unlimited number of web sources. The feedback from this data can also identify training needs to meet the current and future requirements of the organization.


  • Sales: According to a recent report from Lattice Engines and CSO, 71 percent of organizations expect big data to have a significant impact on their sales, while only 16 percent have big data strategies in place for sales. In addition, more than 89 percent of executives believe that sales reps miss opportunities because they cannot keep up with the available information about customers and prospects.

    Big data represents a huge opportunity for sales departments. The amount of available information on prospects can provide the sales team with insights on which clients to target and how to maximize value for their customers. In addition, predictive analytics can offer insights into what customers will buy next, allowing the organization to always be one step ahead.

Big data permeates through an organization from the C-suite to all line of business.  Two main keys to success will be: 1) to take an integrated big data strategy approach to ensure a holistic view of data cross-departments, and 2) ensure line of business workers are able to derive insights from the data they are seeing. This will help uncover new opportunities and provide the ability to make informed decisions to fuel business success.

About the author

Anjul Bhambhri has 23 years of experience in the database industry with engineering and management positions at IBM, Informix and Sybase. She is currently IBM’s Vice President of Big Data Products, overseeing product strategy and business partnerships. Previously at IBM, Anjul focused on application and data lifecycle management tools and spearheaded the development of XML capabilities in DB2 database server. In 2009, she received the YWCA of Silicon Valley’s “Tribute to Women in Technology” Award.

  • Shaloo Shalini

    Marketing, Sales, HR & Finance – all these departments have a common service provider – the administrator or the IT folks. With cloud, IT has moved up the value chain. With Big Data and Data Analytics – do you see the role of administrator moving up the value chain whereby they can combine domain expertise (say HR or Marketing or Sales use of IT ) and the core function that they serve – say Marketing. This union of IT, Domain expertise is what is needed for effective data analytics. Thoughts on ‘Analytics Admin’ for say HR/Sales/Marketing/Finance?

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