Welcome to the latest edition of Analytical Thinking, a newsletter from the UK Business Analytics community providing snippets of insight on what people have been saying about our capability over the last 2 weeks. To coincide with the launch of our Business Analytics and Big Data report, published since the last issue of Analytical Thinking and our joint ‘Big Data’ offer with SAS, this edition focuses on some applications of Big Data that we’ve found on the web over the last 2 weeks and articles relating to the benefits and challenges that Big Data presents.

Applications of Big Data

Big Data Provides Obama with Political Advantage


The depth and breadth of the Obama campaign’s 2012 digital operation — from data mining to online organizing — reaches so far beyond anything politics has ever seen. Experts maintain that it could impact the outcome of a close presidential election. The article argues that when the political race is as close as this year’s election promises to be, data creates a real advantage, and that is something that Obama has in abundance, as more accurate data means more insight, more money, more message distribution, and ultimately more votes.

See article


Digging into the Past with Big Data

Online genealogy service Ancestry.com is trying to become like the Amazon or Netflix of family trees. Much like those companies use customer data to recommend products or movies customers might like, Ancestry.com wants to feed its users relevant historical records and other information on ancestors without making them search through its database. This article explains how Big Data is being used to let users dig into decades into their family histories.

See article



Turning Big Data Into Action: Knowing when to Evacuate

This article describes a tool, which uses historical and meteorological data to generate a risk profile for residents of a city in real-time associated with hurricanes. The tool was inspired by the mass evacuations that occurred during Hurricane Rita in 2005. Millions of Houstonians fled the storm and blocked major roadways. Not all of those who left needed too, but with absent hard data it’s hard to know what to do if you’re reading about a Category 5 storm heading your way. The article argues that this tool illustrates the promise of big data, i.e. ‘a decision’ arguing: “Data — even prettied into a chart — isn’t what most people are after. They just want to know what they should do”.

See article


Banks Harnessing Big Data to Analyse Customers Shopping Habits

Banks are teaming-up with retailers to target customers by analyzing the customer data they collect more closely. This article on Computing.co.uk argues that in a mature market, such as the US, UK or Canada, where credit is a mature industry and people have a wallet full of credit cards, it is naïve for a bank to believe that the way it is going to grow revenues is simply by issuing more credit cards, therefore the issue for banks is not how to increase the amount of cards but how to get the user to use our card, which is an analogous problem to a retailer’s study of customer analytics.

See article


Big Data – The Benefits and The Challenges

The More Pervasive the Analytics, the Better the ROI

If you’ve had your doubts about the benefits of business analytics (business intelligence, product management and predictive analytics), a study from Nucleus Research might go a long way toward dispelling them. The research, titled “The Stages of an Analytic Enterprise,” shows enterprises attain an average ROI of 188 percent in the initial automation phase and an average of 1,209 percent in the later predictive phase. This article explains how companies gain a greater ROI as they broaden and deepen their use of analytics, including using Big Data capabilities to examine large and complex data sets.

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Big Ethics for Big Data

As the collection, organization and retention of data has become commonplace in modern business, the ethical implications behind big data have also grown in importance. Who really owns this information? Who is ultimately responsible for maintaining it? What are the privacy issues and obligations? What uses of technology are ethical — or not — when it comes to big data? These are the questions the authors address in the following article.

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Big Data Challenges Organizations

This article references our very own big data study, which has been referenced by over 1000 social media posts – stating its main findings that over the last few years, an avalanche of data—both structured and unstructured—has pushed organizations to the breaking point. This articles conclusion from our study: CIOs and other IT executives recognize that their ability to achieve success is now heavily dependent on tapping into big data and putting it to full use.

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We hope that you have enjoyed reading this eighth edition of Analytical Thinking and hope that it has provided you with a good insight into some of the value that is currently being realised through Business Analytics solutions. If you would like to find out more about our services and propositions then please contact Nigel Lewis or Jon Chadwick. If you have any suggestions on how we can improve this newsletter or if you have received it via a colleague and would like to subscribe then please contact Charlotte Skornik. If you spot an article that is Business Analytics related then we’d like to know about it, please submit it to Charlotte Skornik, and it may appear in the next edition of Analytical Thinking!