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Master Data Management

Steve Neat (Europe) - Big Data in the Palm of Your Hand

‘Big data’ is a phrase that’s being bandied around boardrooms across Europe at the moment.

To understand its rapid popularity, we need to consider: what exactly is big data and how can we turn something so vast and complex into simple, interactive visuals for executives to easily digest? More importantly, how can we do this on the go, in the age of the iPad and iPhone, when 95% of the Fortune 500 companies are rolling out iPads for staff?

You only need to do a quick search on Google to find multiple definitions for big data, with the obvious defined as huge amounts of structured and unstructured data a company generates. ‘big data’ is a vital necessity for any organization. Data is the foundation of a company; it strengthens business models and keeps all departments connected, without it a company would be a desolate soul.

According to IBM, 90% of the world’s big data has been produced in the last two years but with this, organizations are facing a number of challenges associated with capturing, storing and analyzing big data, including not investing in the right technology to deal with the vast volumes of data. In addition, according to the report issued by McKensie last year, businesses could achieve a £476 billion ($600bn) potential annual consumer surplus and retailers could increase their annual operating margin by 60% if big data is used appropriately. But what tools are out there to help businesses address this?

With the increase in tablet sales and the popularity of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), gone are the days where employers would show off their figures on unsightly paper charts or PowerPoint. Business managers are no longer in charge of aggregating and analyzing data for everyone, now the masses are demanding access to company information. Not only that but they want to do this instantly whilst on the move and to view data that’s refreshed in real-time. Take for example the pharmaceutical sector, sales representatives are on the road constantly and need to access company data throughout the day to make smarter on the go business decisions whilst presenting to surgeries and hospitals. CIOs are taking this phenomenon into account and now beginning to realize that big data needs to be understood by everyone, and as the famous saying goes ‘a picture tells a thousand words’ - companies are realizing data needs to be visual and engaging.

Business Intelligence (BI) is fast becoming more important to tap into how to manage big data, making it simpler and easy to view. BI technologies can deliver a historical, current and predictive overview of business operations which includes reporting, online analytical processing, benchmarking and predictive analytics.

More importantly, there is a move away from traditional BI as companies are now seeing the benefits of using data visualization mobile and tablet apps. These apps act as the front end of BI and sit on top of back office systems like IBM, SAP, Oracle, Salesforce and Microsoft. App developers are now driving innovation and changing boring, unsightly data into impressive, interactive charts, which please all key stakeholders. These kinds of tools allow data to come through on one source - the iPad or the iPhone - meaning everybody has the same information at their fingertips. Company data is becoming intuitive, tactile and engaging.

Mobile BI is becoming the future of how we see big business data.  It’s reducing the complexity of big data and making it easily digestible. Mobile BI apps give you the pulse of your business in the palm of your hand. Wherever you may be in the world, it’ll compile data from multiple systems across your European or indeed, global, business.

I’ve been seeing the velocity of business and the level of personal interaction increasing. When you go to a meeting you need to access your data to discuss important business decisions with the rest of the team or to analyze and solve a particular problem. We need to be constantly reacting to what is happening in the marketplace, in the competitive environment and inside our own companies, when we are no longer close to our desk. You no longer need all the information just a visual snapshot of the mountains of data, that’s pleasing to the eye and simple to manipulate into charts at the swipe of your hand.

By Steve Neat, VP Northern Europe at Roambi

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