The business case for Big Data – Part 1: One customer at a time

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So, you have the CFO on your back, the COO has you cornered in the elevator and, the CMO is instant messaging you to ask what all this Big Data fuss is about. You need benefits, you need numbers and, you need to deliver a story, one customer at a time. Are your relationships making […]

So, you have the CFO on your back, the COO has you cornered in the elevator and, the CMO is instant messaging you to ask what all this Big Data fuss is about. You need benefits, you need numbers and, you need to deliver a story, one customer at a time.

Are your relationships making sense?

The key to a demonstrable business case for Big Data lies in the benefits of simplifying and demystifying relationships between your internal business departments and, their external touch points with both the customer and, the market in which you operate.

If you organization is approaching analysis of these relationships under a the influence of what I call the ‘Data MY way or the highway syndrome’ then, your organizational data complexity and associated operating costs will continue increase the more your organization tries to understand these interactions as fixed and siloed perspectives in time.

To maximize your first big data initiative, aim for the bullseye!

If we consider the relationships as interactions between business areas in the context of the customer, we are more likely to find areas of focus where Big Data will be useful or, indeed absolutely critical.

Lets consider the potential interactions of three core CxOs in our organisation:
Figure 1:  Big data potential impact across CxO interactions

Avoid the grey areas

We can conclude from this that the dark grey areas are not great candidates for your next big data pilot as, they are intrinsically inside-out perspectives of individual departmental functions based internally-focused business data. Therefore, more traditional (and cost effective) data management solutions would more than likely suffice here.

Your first point of call for a big data business case and pilot should be at the centre of the venn diagram. Big data solutions here are crucial as, they represent the epicenter of unstructured relationships and business-to-consumer interactions in the context the business functions you are analysing.

Put the customer at the heart of your big data ‘drivetrain’

If we put the customer at the heart of our business case we are likely to adopt something similar to a drivetrain approach (as recommended by Jeremy Howard in the Strata book) which, uses internal and external data, feeds it through a modeler, a simulator and finally an optimizer to deliver a tangible outcome.

Furthermore, your business case would consider necessary adjustment of the (data-based) ‘levers‘ that you can control against the outcome being sought which, in effect would form the basis of your initial business case.

So, based on our 3 CxOs interactions, we surmise that CFO cost structures could be combined with CMO buying patterns against the COO’s operational perspective on what services and products your organization builds well to determine our go-to-market strategy for the next few quarters.

The business case here could be based around the potential to,

  1. Optimise operational build costs around products we build well
  2. To generate recurring and new revenue sources in CMO-targeted demographics
  3. To decommission costly and static IT interfaces and legacy backoffice processes currently in place across the three functional areas.                        

Adopting big data in this manner could enable your organization to respond faster to market need and recursively adjust your operations to efficiently build products at a cost base that delivers value to your shareholders in a mechanism that does more that consolidate data; more than predict what is needed; It’s a solution that guides behaviours in these business functions towards the business outcome at hand; Gaining one more new customer at a time.

In the Part 2, I will return to look at how big data solutions could reduce the number of costly point-to-point interfaces in your organization.

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