Why Big Data never gives you the Why

Why Big Data never gives you the Why

Anoop Sharma

Anoop Sharma,

It’s the core of any digital disruptor, it’s among the top 5 digital trends worldwide, and it’s a key enabler for creating new business. I’m talking about Big Data and Analytics. Big Data is relevant to all companies and if they are not ready for Big Data, the consumers are. Hence, it is high time to catch up. What about maturity? Some have already experienced major ROI, some have just about started their journey, while many are still stuck into the tech complexity or struggling to come up with a strong business case internally.

When I attended Cognizant’s Snapshot in Oslo Smarter Analytics – Efficiency and Profitability through Big Data – many questions were raised from the mixed audience about transformation and about how to make it happen, in practice. With speakers covering a broad industry spectrum, and from start-ups to well-established corporations, the topic was tackled from different angles. One thing really stood out: even major companies must start thinking more like agile start-ups or they’ll be overtaken. The shift from product based to consumer based business requires new insights – based on both a new tool set and a new mindset.

While most companies now are aware of the value generated by Big Data, many miss out on the very context: the human touch. This is the why behind human behavior, and is essential to create meaningful and actionable insights. While the fundaments of thin data – Big Data – are about volume, variety, and velocity, thick data is about human context, people’s emotions, motivations. Big Data is based on millions of records from different sources with focus on measurable parameters, while thick data deep dives in to the ‘unknown’; it relies on small set of data which is rich, revealing, relational and real. Algorithms can never give you the full story, something that have become painfully obvious lately with e.g. Brexit and the American election. Unexpected outcomes are the new expected outcomes. By effectively combining Big Data and thick data, companies can get both what as well as why, which enables to ‘measure with meaning’.

Once you know the whyin your business, you can start serving your customers better. This is how Lego turned their business, and this is the secret behind Netflix’s success. Do you know the silent triggers behind your customers’ behavior? In the Nordics, many companies are still 2 years behind the US when it comes to utilizing Big Data. Information is siloed, they lack the right competence, and have difficulties to fund projects. Many simply don’t know where to start. With one of the largest workforces focusing only on Big Data, BI and Analytics, combined with ReD Associates’ expertise on thick data, Cognizant is in a unique position to kick-start your journey.

To learn more, please download The Work Ahead, our latest report on how to evolve in the digital economy.

Anoop Sharma,
Analytics Lead, Cognizant