EMC: Big Data analytics the key to gaining edge

Companies can score victories over their competitors by training their best number-crunchers to help find trends and patterns that others might not see.

Just like Brad Pitt’s Billy Beane character in the film Moneyball last year, multinational IT company EMC says organisations that invest in “Big Data” analytics will quickly develop a competitive edge and new revenue streams. In the Oscar-nominated movie, baseball coach Beane used computer-generated analysis to put together a winning team of unknowns based on their game stats.

But the giant data storage company says it doesn’t have to be computer geniuses who lead the drive to use statistics as an engine for business improvement.

“Chief executives should get ahead of the curve now and start identifying people in their organisations who have proven themselves as both technically adroit and technically creative,” said Jason Ward, EMC’s country manager in Ireland.

“It is important not to confine the review to IT professionals; the Big Data team should draw from disciplines capable of thinking beyond typical linear problem-solving,” he said.

The IT sector’s newest recruits are increasingly data scientists, who uncover trends in the huge volume of information generated by citizens and organisations, and who can use those patterns to produce insights.

Mr Ward says that employers should invest in them through training and certifications in Big Data analytics and data science.

While the processes where data can be analysed have the ring of management-speak, the impacts can be seen and felt directly by customers.

For example, location-specific promotions to mobile phones can be generated by analysis of a combination of factors, involving social media, GPS co-ordinates, product selection and individual profiles. Or improved healthcare treatments and outcomes could result from tools to examine patients’ medical histories, or social and economic factors.

Mr Ward said the transformative impact on a business will go beyond “rear view” business intelligence and reveal real-time patterns to help make a quantum leap from incremental improvement to entirely new business models.

Brad Pitt may have been in the running for a best actor Oscar for Moneyball, but the story behind the movie was far from fictional.

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