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Big insights at low costs

Olav Lydersen and Torgeir Strat

22 December 2014 

Read the article in Norwegian here.

PA’s Olav Lydersen and Torgeir Strat, IT experts, have had a byline article published in on big data.

The authors highlight how the hype surrounding big data is based on the premise that there are undiscovered interesting, useful and valuable business insights within the vast amounts of data floating around organisations.

They explain how it may be possible to better anticipate attendance at concerts, for example, based on the amount of related Twitter activity they receive two weeks in advance, or to identify customers who are likely to change provider by looking at their most used keywords.

Sadly, the ‘big’ in big data often comes with a large price tag because it needs large servers, teams, software licenses and a set timeframe. It then becomes difficult to justify the cost of embarking on a major project, if the value of the useful data seems low or impossible to estimate. Faced with uncertain returns and high costs, organisations will do one of two things: dig deep into their wallets or move on. There is however, a third option.

Olav and Torgeir explain: “Today cloud services offer unlimited storage and processing power, and can begin to solve a problem in a few minutes. If you take one or two sets of data, upload them to the cloud and put a skilled data analyst on the case, you can generate useful answers within a few days.

“Such methods can bypass the long lead times and high costs associated with setting up a large-scale database and quickly confirm or disprove theories about market development or purchasing behaviour.”

They highlight a recent example of a colleague who took the data of a national retailer, used Google BigQuery and put a data analyst on the case. Within three days the colleague produced useful output, and within three weeks presented interesting and useful insights into changes in behaviour by members of the store's loyalty programme. What is even more exciting is that they managed to combine data from social media with income figures to show a valuable correlation between Twitter activity and spending habits over the next two weeks.

Olav and Torgeir conclude: “Instead of discussing the value of spending many months and millions of dollars to put in place tools and infrastructure, you can cut straight to the chase and retrieve valuable answers yourself


Olav Lydersen and Torgeir Strat are IT experts at PA Consulting Group

PA Consulting Group in Norway

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