Big Data – Big Decisions, A study on Big Data and Big Analytics in The Netherlands

Keala and The METISfiles announce joint study on Big Data in the Netherlands: Big Data – Big Decisions.

Earlier this year we discussed the state of Big Data developments and concluded that while the topic is strongly hyped the future is promising. Big Data promises to benefit consumers, businesses and government by applying new insights into better products, more efficient processes and new business models. And, as for science, we will for certain witness important breakthroughs as a result of Big Data.

But the highest expectations are set in the business environment.  The promise of Big Data and Big Analytics made by ICT vendors comes down to improving two key financial business metrics: reducing cost and increasing revenues. Large businesses are currently evaluating their Big Data options asking themselves the question: is it worth to board the Big Data Train? There is no easy answer because it is still unclear how big the extra savings and additional revenues could be as a result of implementing Big Data. In other words: we are perfectly able to appreciate the potential of Big Data but are still unable to quantify it.

What we do know is that initially data intensive businesses will benefit most from implementing Big Data. But data intensive businesses are not the same as large businesses. Some trading companies employ less than 100 people but deal with peta bytes of information on a daily basis; for them Big Data will be a high priority. At the same time, it is not just the data intensive financial sector that is evaluating the Big Data opportunity. In an industrial environment production and logistic processes can greatly benefit from Big Data usage by sharply curbing the cost of production. So where and how can we expect Big Data adoption? In the figure below we have mapped Big Data opportunities along two variables: business processes (from operational to business) and data usage (from data discovery to real time data processing).

Big Data Opportunities for the Enterprise


Business processes

  • Operations: Internal processes deal with the production and logistics and other operational processes within a company. In an industrial environment Big Data could help reduce the waste of time and material in product manufacturing and processing industries. In addition, Big Data can support the further tuning of processes or find more efficient ways of manufacturing. Retail, wholesale and transport could also benefit from Big Data usage in their logistic processes. Usually these processes have nothing to do with clients/prospects and Big Data usage will be aimed at cutting, controlling or optimizing costs. Especially high volume-low margin sectors where internal processes make up the bulk of the cost will apply Big Data for more efficiency.
  • Business: External processes in a company deal with the environment outside the company and usually, but not necessarily limited to, commercial processes. At the moment a lot of the Big Data attention is directed at customer and commercial processes in order to increase revenue. Infinite data on prospects and buyers could help make go-to-market approaches more efficient by focusing on right segments.

Data Usage – Using Big Data and Big Analytics can take various applications. It is possible to use Big Data for real-time purposes but also for exploring new market opportunities and more efficient processes.

  • Real Time: Using Big Data in a real time fashion can be an extremely efficient way to constantly search for optimal solutions. Especially in environments that are in constant flux such as traffic, stock markets or energy usage, big data can help optimize actual solutions and bring about reduced cost or increased revenue. Big Data can be applied to ensure a constant flow of traffic while constantly analyzing the current traffic situation and divert traffic on the fly when required. In the energy sector Big Data applications can be used to coordinate the future smart grid where the location of energy production and energy usage will vary almost constantly.
  • Data Discovery: In business environments the increasing amount of information collected can also be used to explore new ways of production, new delivery processes, new markets, new customers, etc. By closely recombining data, new patterns emerge, from which better or new insights can be derived. This could lead businesses to reorganize the way they manufacture their product or re-align their logistics in order to reduce time-to-market, manufacturing cost or enhance quality of the product and service. From a commercial perspective studying data patterns from customers and prospects leads to better insight into customer behavior and changing market conditions. In fact exploring big data sets of commercial information not only leads to better customer insight and the identification of new market segments but to completely new business models.

It is clear that Big Data and Big Analytics offer heaps of opportunity. The question though is whether it will provide sufficient return on investment. In the current timeframe where budget cuts are on top of almost every enterprise’ agenda, investing in yet another new technology requires more than just the promise of opportunity. But to be frank, business simply can’t turn its back on the Big Data opportunity: if they don’t jump the train, others will do and take advantage of the knowledge that remains hidden to the ones that don’t.  Competitive pressure might even prove to be a stronger Big Data motivator than just the promised opportunity. Disregarding Big Data as a crucial business trend can seriously harm business continuity.

That said, Big Data projects don’t come cheap and while the cloud and mobility are accelerating in adoption and maturity, Big Data as a Service is still under development. This does not mean that data intensive industries and businesses can sit back while Big Data evolves into a cheap off-the-shelf technology. But at the same time it also doesn’t mean that businesses should just step into Big Data without some strategic planning. Key to such strategic planning is to assess the full information potential of the company.

Thinking about information and its business value is not revolutionary. What is new is that not using its full information potential can put a company out of business while using the full potential of can disrupt the competitive landscape.

The changes may come suddenly and from unexpected parties and will have deep and lasting impact on business. For this reason alone companies can’t afford to wait and see how Big Data and Big Analytics develops. Whether they want to thrive or survive, business will need to take Big Data seriously right now.

At the METISfiles we think that the upside of Big Data i.e. cost reduction, revenue growth and business innovation, are strong positive motivators for businesses to invest in Big Data. We are curious to know how the different sectors in the Netherlands are adopting and using Big Data, where they see the value add of Big Data, whether cloud and mobility influence Big Data investment decisions, and where they are with their planned investments in Big Data. That is why we have initiated a multi client study together with Keala (former Heliview). The study’s objective is to show more insight into Big Data’s various sector perspectives in the Netherlands. The study will reveal how different sectors are approaching Big Data and how they think about using it for their own businesses, what the drivers and business motivators are, and how they evaluate current Big Data offerings from the various vendors.

Big Data is here to stay because it is one of the first applications that can unleash the true value of information. Let us know if you are interested in our multi client study or if you have Big Data questions you like to see addressed in the study.

For more information on Big Data or the Big Data Multi-Client study:

Big Data Big Decisions (PDF) – METISfiles & Keala

Big Data – Big Decisions, een onderzoek naar de Nederlandse markt voor Big Data en Big Analytics

Big Data: Game On

MicroStrategy: Business Intelligence for the Masses

SAP HANA – Partner Ecosystem Expanding Rapidly


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About Marcel Warmerdam