Businesses love big data, but have no strategy to use it effectively

Big data has shifted in every business, leaving many executives aware that they are already lagging behind in developing a smart data strategy.

Of course, data was always important in the business. However, with the advent of digital data (scale, depth and accessibility), it has become clear that helping businesses build sustainable competitive advantage is essential.

“The new focus on data today comes from the fact that measurement has suddenly become considerably cheaper, anywhere,” says John A. Deighton, a professor of business management at the Baker Foundation at Harvard Business School. “Used well, it changes the base of industry competition to the industry.”

The problem is that big data is often not used well. Businesses are better able to collect data about their customers, products, and competitors than to analyze and strategize.

This is one of the reasons why eight HBS professors pooled their resources in June to launch the Competing on Business Analytics and Big Data Executive programs. “It was unprecedented to involve eight professors in a program,” says Deighton. “This reflects the fact that data problems affect every aspect of the business.”

The program has led C-suite executives and executives to explore the impact of big data on the supply chain, marketing, HR, and other key business functions. Participants explored how market leaders use data to restructure data and how they can use that data to create value for their own business.

The benefits of data in sports
According to Karim Lakhani, co-chair of the program and member of the Technology and Operations Management Unit, big data is already widely used in the sports world. He explained to the students how the German national football team TSG Hoffenheim used analysis to test and develop players. He also explained how New Zealand yacht designers and crews prepared for the 1995 Americas Cup with a radical and data-intensive experimentation plan.

Deighton explained how new sources of data created by the Internet of Things have impacted Google, Amazon and Facebook advertising hegemony. “The best image we have of an industry using data today is advertising, which accounts for at least a third of the brand’s spend on digital media, and what happens when sensor-based products generate so much customer experience that advertising is a less important one Factor can be? ”

Jeff Polzer from the Department of Organizational Behavior introduced “People Analysis,” a fast-growing field in which business leaders, HR professionals, and data scientists work together to use data to better understand the issues. Improve employee decisions and practices. New analytical approaches and new sources of digital data are increasingly revolutionizing this area, for example through algorithmic approaches to recruitment and promotion. Real-time data feeds that track performance and organizational culture feedback. and digital trace data analytics to map and format organization networks.

“As managers and employees address these challenges and trade-offs, the benefits of using the data can be leveraged, including the benefits to employees seeking feedback and improvements. related analyzes, “says Polzer.

Regarding the analysis of the data, Dennis Campbell of the Accounting and Management Department presented the data strategy of the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas as well as the difficulty of distinguishing between correlation and causality in the deduction from large datasets.

Ariel Dora Stern of Technology and Operations Management asked the class to think about what would have been impossible without the recent progress of the data. She took the lessons to her personal passion, precision medicine.

“Healthcare has such examples – and such big data applications will only grow over the next few years – I think a lot about how artificial intelligence will change the medical diagnostics industry, how will better data collection be It’s amazing and exciting to imagine how data processing and analysis capabilities can change entire industries, and it was exciting to be part of these conversations with people from such rich and varied backgrounds. ”

“It’s both the challenge and the excitement of illustrating the transformation of data and capacity across all industries.”
Kris Ferreira, also a professor in Technology and Operations Management, outlined his approach to operationalizing a data strategy through case studies.

“First, students learned a framework to combine intuition and data / analysis (including regression and optimization) into a comprehensive decision-making strategy, and secondly, students developed an implementation plan to turn an intuition-based business into a data-driven and analytic business involved discovering key barriers to change that require a broader understanding of organizational culture and incentives. ”

Ferreira also shared the results of a survey of 350 companies across four industries on their analytical skills. “The results show strong correlations between business metrics and analytics and show a variety of tasks where top performers use analytics …”

Feng Zhu, who teaches digital innovation and transformation, explained how big data drives new business models. “Today, most organizations use data analytics to streamline or improve their existing businesses, and to take full advantage of data analytics, the following two strategic questions need to be considered: 1) Can I use my data to bring new life to my existing customers? 2) Can I use the data to service customers who are not currently served by me or my competitors? ”

Instructing the course throughout the program, across all disciplines of a business school, teachers emphasized the importance of linking the analysis to a comprehensive data strategy. In the recent Lakhani discussion focusing on internal transformation and customer transformation at GE, it became clear that a data strategy is not just about gathering and analyzing information, but of course the unifying principle of reinventing business.

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