By Dan Berthiaume
It’s no secret that organizations today are dealing with ever-increasing volumes of unstructured data that did not exist just a few short years ago. Known as “Big Data,” this mass of information poses both a major challenge and opportunity in the world of business process analytics.
How Big Data interacts with BPO, and how BPO can aid organizations in more effectively collecting, analyzing and managing Big Data to produce superior business process outcomes, was the topic of a webinar, “Analyze This: Your Business Process Analytics Strategy May Be Hurting your Business,” hosted by BPO Outcomes on July 24, 2012. The webinar included presentations from advisory firm Alsbridge and BPO provider Capgemini. During his presentation, Ben Trowbridge, Founder/CEO of Alsbridge, focused on defining what exactly Big Data is and how it impacts BPO.
Speeding Up the OODA Loop
Alsbridge defines Big Data as, “Information assets whose volume, velocity and/or varieties require new forms of information processing for improved insight discovery, management decision-making and automation or process.” On a more practical level, Trowbridge said Big Data analytics allows companies to improve the performance of their OODA (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act) Loop.
“By speeding up their OODA Loop, organizations can ‘outaction’ their competitors,” said Trowbridge. “They can send a trial balloon of value propositions in an accelerated way.” In addition, Trowbridge said Big Data analytics allows organizations to “outcycle” their competitors by speeding up their decision cycle. “Companies can be smarter and make more decisions,” he said.
Big Data Drivers – The ‘Three Vs’
Trowbridge said that the “three Vs” – Volume, Variety and Velocity, are driving the growth of Big Data. As an example of the number of consumer data points now producing data, he cited the 30 billion Facebook posts which are made every month and the 5 billion mobile phones in use. “The amount of data is near the yottabyte (one quadrillion gigabytes) level,” said Trowbridge. “This was nearly incomprehensible a few years ago, when data was at the giga or megabyte level. The net impact to the bottom line could be enormous.”
In addition, Trowbridge said Big Data comes as both structured (apps) and unstructured content from a huge variety of consumer sources and there is 40% projected growth in global data generated next year.
What Big Data Can Do For You
Quite simply, Trowbridge said Big Data allows organizations to “predict the future.” He gave the example of a group of scientists who analyzed publicly available data on the war in Afghanistan, including Wikileaks information on engagement with the enemy. They were able to point out future points of conflict with a high degree of accuracy, based on patterns that lay within the engagement data. Thus, Trowbridge said Big Data analysis allows companies to do far more than find out what their customers are saying about them.
“Marketers and customer service professionals at the forefront can use Big Data to look at the future. Big Data allows you to start with a hypothesis and prove or disprove it through a series of hypothesis-driven analytics,” he said. “You can figure out the question through analyzing and crunching data.”
To Outsource or Not to Outsource
For many organizations, Trowbridge said enlisting BPO services can be a crucial step in analyzing Big Data. “Many companies don’t have the necessary scale of infrastructure or resources,” he stated. “Questions are going unanswered, and it’s costing you money.” Trowbridge advised companies considering outsourcing part or all of their Big Data analytical efforts to consider their internal ability to handle three major requirements: significant investments required in the expansion and modernization of information infrastructure, people with analytical expertise and managers and analysts with the skills to understand and make decisions based on analytical results, and the ability to quickly build infrastructure and acquire talent.
Companies that do not have the ability to handle all of these requirements should look for a BPO provider who does have the ability. And if a company has the necessary internal resources? “Get off your tinker toys and attack the problem yourself,” Trowbridge concluded.