How the Proper Use of Big Data Leads to Better Business Decisions

Monday, May 14, 2012
posted by alice

We’ve recently come across two articles that outline just how important Big Data can be to improving your business.  “Using Big Data to Make Better Business Decisions” from Edelman Digital notes that the Big Data focus has moved in recent years from areas such as complex scientific research and military surveillance to an emphasis on social networks, online search, and enterprise e-commerce.

In these new contexts, Big Data impacts not just marketing, PR, sales, and customer service facets, but also supply chain, research and development, human resources, and other areas.

We have been forced to broaden the definition of big data thanks to the growth of User Generated Content (UGC), the impact of which means we now create as much information every two days as we did from the dawn of man through to 2003. The unstoppable surge of content and data has contributed to what we are now calling ‘information obesity’ and led Edelman’s Steve Rubel to coin the term ‘Attentionomics’; focusing on the difficulty of cutting through the noise to captivate people’s attention, amid infinite content and finite time in the big data age.

The article notes that tools such as Radian6, Sysomos and Synthesio work quite well for reporting and evaluating marketing activity.  Yet, there is a gap in organizations’ ability to mine data and extract meaning from this online data.  This means that many businesses are “data rich, but insight poor” when it comes to their Big Data mining activity.

The article gives examples of businesses that are ahead of most other players in their Big Data activities.  Recorded Future is a software company that focuses on web intelligence and  analytics and has taken advantage of funding from Google and the C.I.A.  Recorded Future’s “temporal analytics engine” combs through online information to predict future events such as economic changes, terrorist attacks, and disease outbreaks.  Derwent Capital Markets uses listening technology to guide investments by comparing the online mood with stock market changes.  Also, some major American supermarkets are improving their supply chains using data mined from local social media sources.

The article concludes that these examples show how businesses are starting to use Big Data resources to improve their decisions and indicate how online conversations may be used to predict offline behavior.

Another interesting example of Big Data usefulness is found in the article “How to Use ‘Big Data’ to Better Manage the Business of Law.”  This Inside Council article outlines how Big Data can help law firms not just with e-Discovery, but also with pricing and staffing decisions.  Volumes of data produced as a by-product of legal transactions can be used for greater efficiency in managing the business of law.

Service of process records can help identify litigation trends, trademark filings can aid intellectual property practitioners to gain competitive advantage, and commercial lending activity can aid merger and acquisitions council to predict risk.  In addition, at least half of corporate law departments are predicted to use electronic billing by 2015, which will result in massive amounts of data.  Analytics can mine this data to provide valuable insights into legal performance management and legal spend management.  Corporate law departments can then better evaluate expenses and make better resource allocation decisions.

However, the article advises that before beginning a legal spend and performance analytics program that corporate law departments ask themselves a series of questions, including whether or not a single electronic invoicing system is used with all external counsel, what type of insights and benchmarks they are seeking from invoices, the need for decreasing legal spend, and the national or regional averages for different legal matters.   Savings may result from retaining a current law firm but transferring less expert-domain matters to another office.

These two articles show how Big Data can enhance business value in many different industries.  If you are interested in taking advantage of Big Data in your industry, look to the proven solutions from Smartlogic.  The Semaphore Content Intelligence Platform uses navigational taxonomies, ontologies, and automated classification to produce important facts and insights from your untamed Big Data.  For more information, point your browser to

Ken Toth, May 14, 2012

Leave a Reply