Why Big Data Changes Business Culture

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big data, change management, future technology

Recently, I have come across a great article from FTreports on how big data is able to cause the change of business culture. From the article, “Big data Sparks cultural changes, Companies have ambitious plans to use data to make operations more efficient, build stronger relationships with customers or develop new revenue streams. However it will not count for much if they are not ready for the revolution ahead, says Richard Waters, the author of the article.

A case study which Richard Waters mentioned would be UPS. After installing sensors to monitor its vehicles and also adding the use of GPS to track their movements, UPS managed to launch one of its most ambitious technology projects, whereby the system is capable to handle massive complex task by optimising the routes taken by tens of thousands of drivers. However, no matter how impressive the technology, it will only be as good if only the employees are able to use it. Employees from UPS  mentioned that the change of management is the biggest challenge.

Often technologies that promise pervasive changes to the way business, the benefits can be easy to comprehend but it takes longer time to carry out and achieve in reality. Business practices have to adapt to accommodate new approaches. Above all, corporate cultures and personal working styles have to be over hauled and it starts from the very top management. “Becoming a data-driven company means bringing a new scientific method to decision-making” says Richard Waters. In an interview conducted by the author with Hugh Williams, who worked at Microsoft and eBay says “Maybe Google began that way, but everyone else has been through a revolution,” as they sought to adopt data-driven management in parts of their operations.

Industries like agriculture is bringing a scientific rigour to farming by using GPS to guide tractors more accurately or coming up with more precise methods. Automation is getting involve with the decision making process, making deeper inroads, and human labour. Therefore the talent shortage is “the biggest gap, and the hardest to close”, says Mr Pearson, a partner at consulting firm Bain, mentioned in the article.

Waters mentioned that there maybe a huge gap in between, yet educational institutions are keeping up with the pace to deal with the issue. Companies are also reaching out by offering online courses to fill in the gaps. As for technology, Williams from Pivotal mentioned that “most companies hold the data in 10 places”.  And he also added “That fragmentation leaves them well short of achieving the ideal: a data “lake” for all their information, organized and tagged in a coherent way to make it available to managers across the organisation for their particular needs.”

The above article is an abstract from FTreports, The Connected Business, March 26 2014. Let us know your comments.
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