Big Data Takes the C-suite

By: Nancee Ruzicka

The C-suite wants answers. In the C-suite it’s all about performance, problem solving, and progress. Understanding performance requires metrics, solving problems requires context and analysis, and moving forward requires good decisions based on comprehensive and reliable information gleaned from across the business. But there’s a reason it’s called Big Data and managing the volume and complexity of available data against resources, desired results, and staff presents executives with significant challenges.

The number of transactions occurring across wireless and wireline networks continues to increase at a steady 20-25 percent per year with no sign of slowing down. According to the Cisco 2013 Visual Networking Index, Mobile Internet and data traffic is expected to expand by greater than 60 percent through 2017 and mobile video by a staggering 90 percent during the same time period! Service providers recognize the need to process all of these transactions to ensure proper billing and settlements while preventing fraud. But these network transactions also include a wealth of detail about customer behavior, usage, location and services that operators want to take advantage of for customer care, product development, marketing, and revenue generation.

The volume of customer transactions continues to grow exponentially and service providers face a host of new operational complexities. In addition to millions of customers and billions of transactions, operators must also capture, correlate and distribute data from millions of new devices, thousands of applications, numerous content partners and converged services offered to both retail and business customers.

To accomplish this, IT assets and applications have become increasingly distributed, virtualized, outsourced, and cloud-based. As a result, the ability to gather the right data from all the necessary sources becomes difficult; and no matter how powerful the analytics, the wrong data produces unreliable results.

With the fate of the company on their shoulders, C-suite execs aren’t taking any chances – they’re taking control. Rather than making big data and analytics an IT initiative, executives are insisting on efforts that turn big data and analytics into business improvement.

Searching for Answers

In the LavaStorm 2014 Analytics Trends Survey, more than 20% of respondents indicated that turning analytic insights into action is their biggest challenge while 16% said that gleaning insight from available data was a major difficulty and nearly 14% indicate that building trust in the insights is the biggest hurdle. Data scientists whole-heartedly agree that those are the most serious challenges and that the solution lies in the C-suite.

Metrics matter; but which ones? Rather than relying on IT to search and select what data is analyzed and how often, C-suite executives are determining the types of metrics that are important for both strategic and tactical business needs. It’s no longer about whether analytics can be directed to analyze a set of data points, but what the analysis means to the business and how the business can convert that insight into action. That requires IT to engage with the business at every level and jointly develop complex models to ask complex questions and reach business-driven results.

Dashboards and performance portals tell part of the story, but where’s the insight? Where’s the correlation? Where’s the actionable insight? There are thousands of processes that require tracking and millions of possible performance metrics that could be calculated. So which are most beneficial to the business?

What the C-Suite is Doing

Because the volume and complexity of data currently available to enterprise executives, not to mention the variety of sources, exceeds humans’ capacity to correlate and analyze, the need for big data and analytics is obvious. What is less obvious is what we’re looking for. The challenges surrounding big data and analytics are many; but, for executives, the most overlooked issue is people. The technology that can search and sort through massive amounts of data is evolving, but the supporting cast is less capable than it needs to be. None of the information means anything if the staff isn’t available.


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