Where Business Functions See the Gold in Big Data – and the Barriers in Mining It
We wanted to scratch below the surface to see what other studies had found with Big Data and most importantly, understand which business activities in these eight core business functions achieved the greatest Big Data benefits.
We asked managers in each business function to rate a number of activities for potential Big Data benefits for their function, using a five-point scale, with 1 denoting ‘no benefits’ and 5 denoting ‘very high benefits’. We created this list after conducting extensive secondary research, combing through articles about companies and their Big Data initiatives, as well as public speaking presentations by those firms.1 In total, we asked for ratings on 75 functional activities.
So where do these 643 companies see the potential Big Data benefits?
Exhibit IV-3 shows the functional activities rated highest in terms of potential benefits. The eight most highly rated functional activities (and the function in which they operate) are:
• Identifying customers with the most potential or actual value (sales)
• Monitoring product quality (R&D)
• Monitoring product shipments (logistics)
• Identifying customer needs for new products and product enhancements (R&D)
• Identifying customers at risk of defecting (customer service)
• Determining marketing campaign effectiveness (marketing)
• Pinpointing where inventory is disappearing (logistics)
• Identifying spikes in logistics costs (logistics)
Exhibit IV-3: Where Companies See the Gold in Big Data
Q18a-h: Functional Activities Rated as Having Highest Potential Benefits from Big Data
This data suggests that activities, which companies believe have the greatest potential for Big Data benefits, go far beyond marketing and sales. In fact, of the 25 highest-rated activities, there are an equal number in logistics and sales (six). In addition, marketing and customer service had four each. In other words, opportunities to capitalize on Big Data exist in numerous corners of a large, global company.
In each business function, Exhibit IV-4 below shows the two activities with the highest expected Big Data benefits, as well as the activity with the lowest expected benefit. We’ll go into the details of each function in the next section of this chapter.
Exhibit IV-4: Functional Activities With the Highest Expected and the Least Expected Benefits from Big Data
Q18: Two Highest and One Lowest-Rated Functional Activities in Potential Benefits from Big Data
Furthermore, we wanted to understand what managers directing these business functions perceived as the greatest barriers to achieving such Big Data benefits. Thus, we processed our data on key challenges by business function. Exhibit IV-5 below shows the five biggest challenges for two of the eight business functions and compares them to what IT managers and analytics professionals said.
Exhibit IV-5: Comparing Key Challenges of Sales, Marketing, IT and Analytics Managers
We next present the main areas of Big Data benefits (where the gold is) and the key challenges (what’s preventing managers from getting that gold), function by function.
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- The list of activities for each of the eight business functions is by no means a complete one. As a result, we do not claim that this data represents the way large companies view all their opportunities for using Big Data in their businesses. [↩]