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Turning Big Data From A Liability To An Asset – Point 2 Taking An Enterprise Wide Approach

By Richard Sharpe | 01/17/2014 | 12:28 PM | Categories: Web/Tech


Getting value from Big Data is a headline that is constantly being offered daily in multiple publications. A lot of what is said about Big Data is really just a spin on ways to sell “re-wrapped” products and services. My hope is that the information that is being offered in this blog provides meaningful suggestions that allow your company to gain significant competitive advantage from Big Data.

Companies are aggressively trying to figure out what Big Data means and how they can tackle the multiple obstacles they anticipate in order to gain significant value. This posting is the second in a series focused on the problem of addressing data liability. The goal of this series is to demystify the whole notion of harnessing Big Data from being a seemingly impossible, daunting task to an opportunity to create an invaluable asset that drives significant financial performance improvements. In the last issue, we talked about building organizational consensus. In this issue, we will look at the importance of building on that consensus to support an enterprise wide approach to maximize the value of Big Data. 

You might find the following article of interest. It also addresses the need for an enterprise-wide approach to Big Data: click here  

I am currently reading the book Deep and Wide by Andy Stanley. Although the topic is on a completely different subject, the title of the book provides synergy to taking an enterprise wide approach with Big Data. Let’s explore this further.

To tackle the point of gaining cross-functional buy-in to your Big Data approach, you need to give everyone at the party something they want. But how can you accomplish this to satisfy the specific Big Data needs for Supply Chain, Sales, Marketing, Operations and Finance? Doesn’t this only increase the time and complexity associated with the effort and push it one step closer to inevitable cancelation?

The answer is no. Effective solutions do not approach Big Data from a “functional silo” point of view but from an “end to end supply chain” perspective in order that the transactional data can be repurposed to serve the multiple needs of the organization. Taking a holistic approach that includes suppliers, manufacturing, storage, transportation, inventory and product returns provides an end to end level of scope that can then be used to serve multiple functional needs. This is the Wide piece of the puzzle having one source of trusted information and is a key criteria to building effective Integrated Business Planning (IBP) solutions using Big Data.

But what about the Deep side of the solution. To be meaningful, Big Data solutions have to provide for meaningful insights that drive better organizational decisions. This requires the ability to get to very specific performance information, information that provides insights and is actionable. You might be thinking; what, detailed information about end to end operational performance accessible to multiple organizational users? You bet! The cloud now provides the processing capability to take the first step to harness Big Data that drives value by increasing financial performance and competitive advantage.

I am often in meetings with a group that was not the original sponsor of the company’s Big Data initiative. We will be reviewing IBP information focused on a specific operating strategy. The conversation will go something like this:

“Yes, we think that’s the case, nothing new there. But wait, look at those details! Can that be right? How did you determine that? Can you drill into that further?

I wish we had known that specific information on that (customer, product, channel – you pick the area) yesterday.”

Avoiding approaches that use silos of Big Data is a huge step in gaining high impact results. Making very specific operation details available in ways that are meaningful to each organization eliminates conflicting analysis and confusion on operating performance. Going Deep and Wide using an Enterprise Approach is key.

In fact, this goes back to getting everyone to buy in. Give everyone something to make their job easier, something to make them smarter and something that makes them more efficient and you will have turned data into an asset instead of it being a liability...

We would appreciate hearing your thoughts and comments. All the best, Richard



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The opinions expressed herein are those solely of the participants, and do not necessarily represent the views of Agile Business Media, LLC., its properties or its employees.

About Richard Sharpe

Richard Sharpe

Richard Sharpe is CEO of Competitive Insights, LLC (CI), a founding officer of the American Logistics Aid Network (ALAN) and designated by DC Velocity as a Rainmaker in the industry. For the last 25 years, Richard has been passionate about driving business value through the adoption of process and technology innovations. His current focus is to support CI's mission to enable companies to gain maximum value through specific, precise and actionable insights across the organization for smarter growth. CI delivers Enterprise Profit Insights (EPI) solutions that enable cross-functional users to increase and protect profitability. Prior to his current role, Richard was President of CAPS Logistics, the forerunner of supply chain optimization. Richard is a frequent speaker at national conferences and leading academic institutions. His current focus is to challenge executives to improve their company's competitive position by turning enterprise wide data from a liability to an asset through the use of applied business analytics.


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