Not long ago, organizations bragged about the large volume of data in their databases. The implied message from IT leaders who boasted about their terabytes and petabytes and exabytes was that company data was like a mountain of gold ore, waiting to be refined. The more ore they had, the more gold – that is, business value – they could get out of it.
But the “bigness” of Big Data isn’t the game changer anymore. The real competitive advantage from Big Data lies in two areas: how you use the data, and how you provide access to the data. The way you address both of those goals can make or break an application – and, in some cases, even make or break your entire organization. Allow me to explain why, and tell you what you can do about it – because mastering this important change is vital to enabling the digital world.
How Big Data Has Changed
Each of us – and the devices we carry, wear, drive, and use every day – generate a surge of data. This information is different from Big Data of just a few years ago, because today’s data is both about us and created by us. Websites, phones, tablets, wearables and even cars are constantly collecting and transmitting data – our vital stats, location, shopping habits, schedules, contacts, you name it.
Companies salivate over this smorgasbord of Big Data because they know that harnessing it is key to business success. They want to analyze this data to predict customer behavior and likely outcomes, which should enable them to sell better (and, of course, sell more) to us. That’s the “how you use data” part of the equation – the part that has remained pretty consistent since market research was invented more than 100 years ago, but that has improved greatly (both in speed and precision) with the advent of analytics software.
Then comes the “how you provide access to data” part of the equation – the part that highlights how today’s user-generated Big Data is different. Smart, customer-obsessed businesses understand that the data relationship with their consumers is a two-way street. They know that there is tremendous value in providing individuals with direct, secure access to their own data, often through the use of embedded analytics.
Put another way: the consumers created the data, and they want it back. Why else do you think financial institutions tout how easily you can check balances and complete transactions on smartphones, and healthcare companies boast about enabling you to check test results and schedule appointments online? Making your data instantly available to you – and only to you – builds trust and loyalty, and deepens the bond between businesses and consumers. And like I said earlier, doing so is vital to enabling the digital world.
The New Keys to Success
But when a business decides to enable customers to access their data online and explore it with embedded analytics, that business must give top priority to customers’ security and privacy concerns. In a blog post, “Privacy Professor” Rebecca Herold notes that data breaches, anonymization and discrimination rank among the Top 10 Big Data Analytics Privacy Problems. Her post is a must-read for organizations that plan to provide data analytics to customers.
To underline Herold’s point, Bank Info Security says that personal data for more than 391.5 million people was compromised in the top six security breach incidents in 2014 – and that number does not include the Sony breach that made headlines. Security and privacy must be a primary consideration for any organization harnessing Big Data analytics. Remember what Uncle Ben said to Peter Parker: “With great power comes great responsibility.”
Meeting the privacy and security challenges of today’s user-generated Big Data requires a comprehensive approach that spans the lifecycle of customer data, from generation through distribution. If you want guidance in creating such an approach, check out the replay of a webinar I presented on June 23, Analytics in a Secure World. My colleague Katharina Streater and I discussed:
- The drivers and trends in the market
- What top businesses today do to ensure Big Data protection
- How you can secure data during content generation, access, manipulation and distribution
- Strategies for complying with data security regulations in any industry
If you watch the replay, you’ll come away with great ideas for securing data from the point of access all the way through to deployment and display of analytic results. We explained why a comprehensive approach minimizes the risk of security breaches, while simultaneously providing a personalized data experience for each individual user.
We closed the program by explaining how OpenText Analytics and Reporting products have the horsepower required to handle immense volumes of data securely. We showed how the OpenText Analytics platform scales to serve millions of users, and explained why its industrial-strength security can integrate directly into any existing infrastructure. Please check out Analytics in a Secure World today.