George Stelling | Age Of Big Data
With the rise of technologies that capture every interaction a consumer or business person makes, data scientists are becoming more and more important to companies, says George Stelling, an investor and Senior Executive with experience in growing sales and profits for highly profitable and distressed businesses alike in the technology and consumer markets. The age of big data analytics is here, and experienced practitioners are vying to help companies analyze data for insight.
It used to be that a business’s numbers were focused on profit and loss reports based on sales and cost incurred. Today, leading edge companies are leveraging and analyzing web traffic, social media content, online reviews, and even location data to find ways to cut costs, lift sales, and grow their channel and customer relationships. With all that data to be analyzed, corporations are looking for analysts and tools to generate insights from all of that data. Deep analytical experience and the ability to create structured experiments are becoming a highly desired skill set in companies that want to capitalize on emerging information, says George Stelling. Now more than ever, companies are looking for well-trained managers with a background in statistics, hypothesis driven experiments, and data analysis.
Big data has become the next big technological trend since the likes of Google and Facebook mastered the importance of collecting and utilizing the data online from things like comments, posts, messages and search engine keyword searches. Big Data implies not only large amounts of data, but also the tools to capture insights from that data. I prefer the term ‘advanced analytics’ personally, as Big Data is too general, says George Stelling. Advanced analytics describes a process, tools, and skills needed to collect, interrogate, and realize insights from structured and unstructured data. Ever-changing trends in technology have allowed for new concepts to emerge. These can help individuals make important business decisions through the use of practices such as the study of consumer behavior through ethnographic research. More data appears every day especially with the creation of devices like digital sensors. Whether these sensors are measuring temperature or movement or counting warehouse shipping crates as they come and go, the information is endless and in some people’s opinions, extremely necessary.
George Stelling notes that once you combine internal data sources with those offered by the outside world, opportunities to draw meaningful conclusions abound. The Internet has thousands of websites that offer demographic data, and now, governmental and third party websites are making mass amounts of information available to the public. These types of data sources have made more data available to businesses, but the challenge is to keep on top of the growth in data and generate meaningful insights from it, says George Stelling. The increasing speed of computers, the falling cost of storage, and the advent of new tools like NoSQL are just as important as having someone to evaluate that data and present it in a visually appealing way to understand patterns. Ultimately, the amount and type of data continues to advance tools and software technologies
Corporations Need To Focus On Insights Not Just Large Amounts of Data Says George Stelling
In a study done by Erik Brynjolfsson, an economist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management, he noticed a five to six percent increase in productivity in companies that began using data analysis to drive business decisions. While data has always been around in some form or another, many business decisions were based largely on experience and intuition. George Stelling notes the advent of big data from all facets of the web and mobile applications, now provides some insight into customer behaviors, both historical and on a predictive basis, which can now be backed up by factual research.
Big data focuses on the emergence of web analytics, social media, GPS information, and unstructured data like videos, photos, and sounds. Using advanced analytical concepts, researchers can theoretically track behavior and apply predictive analytics scientifically, George Stelling explains. Major retailers are applying this data to their stores and promotional campaigns. Wal-mart has analyzed sales in comparison to factors such as location, state of the economy, demographics, and the weather to decide the schedule in which particular items are marked down.
The importance of social network research comes directly from understanding how influential consumer behavior is on business strategy and building meaningful value propositions for customers. Researchers can learn a great deal of information following trending hashtags on Twitter and learning about the dynamics of social circles on channels such as Facebook and Google+. Not only is social network research an important aspect of big data, but focusing on search engine results and keyword research also provides some insight into how consumers search the web and what their preferences might be. This data can be utilized to drive more traffic to company websites and build awareness, which ultimately leads to an increase in sales. On the product development side, this data can provide an almost continuous feedback loop on important parts of the customer value proposition like pricing, product features, channels, and the like.
While big data can be extremely useful for companies, the process of analysis must be teamed with a sense of real life experimentation too. The increase in data can cause analysts and statisticians to come to false conclusions, which could lead to massive headaches and a loss in revenue. The data is being analyzed using computer software and algorithms, which in the end, could decrease the level of understanding the data provides. Also, the amount of data could be extremely overwhelming to researchers and computer scientists. Conclusions reached from the data need to be tested as in a set of pilots to prove out their validity in the real world. Guarding against false positives in the job of every data scientist and manager, George Stelling notes.
Big data gives researchers the opportunity to use new and unique information, including data from the past and the present, to effectively predict the future. Decision-makers are closely watching patterns in hopes that they can anticipate consumer behavior. The companies that will win at Big Data, points out George Stelling, will be those that understand its benefits and its limitations and those that take data to insight to implementation and measure results at each step of the process.
George Stelling is a senior executive, investor, and advisor to companies in the technology and consumer markets. Stelling specializes in conceptualizing and implementing strategies to help businesses improve profits and performance. Stelling and business partner Robert Charles are currently conceptualizing an investment partnership and advisory business that focuses on providing advanced analytics to companies in the middle market.