The various ways major companies — and even entire industries — have begun utilizing methods to capture and analyze big data has gotten a significant amount of attention over the last few years. The level of interest shows no signs of waning. In fact, some data experts have even begun to realize that big data can be a competitive advantage regardless of industry.
Having a very high-tech method for collecting your data and pulling useful information from it is not adequate. Those aspects are important, but you also need to prioritize high-quality data.
One of the advantages of big data is it can look at giant quantities of information and do so very quickly. The quality level of the data should be a factor that’s assessed during the input phase because if you’re poring over low-quality or irrelevant data, the results you get will reflect that carelessness.
Many companies take a quantity-over-quality approach, especially if there is a lot of excitement over being able to simultaneously examine lots of data very efficiently. But, in the absence of high-quality data, your outcomes could be ineffective or harmful, especially if poor data quality skews the results.
There is evidence to suggest that, when care is taken to maintain the integrity of big data, the results might reduce workforce strain in certain industries without causing a drop in success rates. One example of how this has happened is within the telehealth market, which depends on high-tech devices and technologies to monitor patients remotely for better clinical management.
Supporters of telehealth assert it could effectively address a physician shortage that is being exacerbated by factors such as an aging population and better access to health care due to Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
It may reduce waiting room delays and make it easier for doctors to assess if patients really need urgent care or can get assistance through other outlets than their local emergency rooms.
The Veteran’s Health Administration (VHA) has been so successful with telehealth methods that it spurred a rapid expansion of telehealth programs and the required funding streams. As of 2010, there were only 43,000 participants in the VHA’s telehealth initiatives, and 2014 data indicates 156,000 patients enrolled.
As a result of telehealth’s capabilities, patients get the treatments they need and potentially stay healthier. Plus, doctors free up their schedules for better productivity.
(Infographic Source: Kofax)
In all kinds of sectors, from transportation to retail, there is a consistent need for companies to find out what customers really think and track associated trends over time. For that to happen, companies have to get the right data to drive opportunities and make better decisions.
When used properly, big data makes it much easier to get a broad picture of things like buying behavior and preferences over time. Then, data analysts can zoom in on certain segments of the data to study it more closely.
Last fall, Nielsen, the company that monitors the sale of packaged products in over 100 countries and tracks media consumption, allowed access to some of its collected data through what’s known as the Nielsen Connected Partner Program.
The company hopes to promote collaboration between buyers and sellers and remove some of the uncertainty that comes with predicting which products will sell well and which might flop.
Because Nielsen is such a well-known name, the company’s decision to make some of its data available on a wider scale could play a role in convincing some businesses studying big data to learn about how consumers behave is a good idea. It could help entire industries understand data collaboration is a worthy aim.
It should now be clear why people believe big data offers competitive benefits — it does. It’s difficult or impossible to tap into them without stringent quality-control measures in place though.
As such, it’s not always the case that big data alone is a competitive advantage, but taking care to monitor the information and ensure it meets or exceeds certain standards is a good rule to follow.
By Kayla Matthews