Bits and Bytes: Big Ideas for Organisations

2012 has seen several game changers, from the maturing of social media to the redefining of the role of marketing. Change was the buzzword in every sector, as many witnessed how data, networks and design all come together to disrupt existing systems. This has affected how we organise companies and seems set to change even the business of consulting.

The year has been exciting for those anticipating change but brutal for those caught unprepared. Businesses are struggling to understand how to engage with customers and employees alike. It isn’t helping that many people are talking but few are helping to clarify.

Here are some trends and ideas to look out for in 2013.

2012 is the year of big data, as organisations have begun to see the merit in understanding massive amounts of data collected over time, using sophisticated analytical tools to help them harness valuable insights. The most publicised user of big data is evidently Team Obama, who launched a relentless digital operation to micro-target potential supporters and bring them to the polls for this year’s elections.

From finance to retail and government to technology, big data has transformed the way organisations deal with its stakeholders. However, jumping on the big data bandwagon buy digibyte requires more pre-requisites, in addition to capital investment (to purchase servers or cloud storage) and ability to hire data scientists (who are also short in supply).

Past approaches to data analysis involve extracting insights from a fixed supply of data, which supports high-certitude decision-making frameworks. This, however, does not work for big data analytics due to the sheer volume and speed at which data flows. In big data environments, incoming data renders previous decisions obsolete, hence it is critical that organisations analyse, decide and act quickly and often, by continuously studying the data flows and having specific hypotheses in place.

What would be interesting to see is how organisations balance the use of big data with the need for big thinking. We expect that organisations who have a core purpose and key set of values will find it easier to guide its development of hypotheses and decision-making in its interpretation of huge data. In addition, organisations who can evolve their organisational structures to better accommodate cross-functional collaboration and integration of data sources will have greater ability to harness the power of big data.