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How Does Big Data Improve Business Operations?

“Big” fails to adequately describe the volume of data that is swamping businesses’ efforts to unlock hidden value. According to TechReport’s 2023 compilation of big data statistics, the global volume of data was estimated at 79 zettabytes in 2021 and will double by 2025. For comparison, a single zettabyte equals 930 billion gigabytes, about four times the number of stars in the Milky Way.

Other TechReport statistics include:

  • Ninety-five percent of businesses identify unstructured data inflow as a significant operational challenge.
  • Ninety percent of existing data is redundant, creating near-impossible data quality issues.
  • Unrealized value locked in big data costs the U.S. economy $3.1 trillion annually.
  • Investment in big data analytics (BDA) grew to over $274 billion in 2022 from $180 billion in 2019.

Unlocking the abundant intelligence that supports data-driven decision-making (DDDM) “becomes crucial for staying competitive in today’s data-driven landscape,” TechReport concludes. A key component to achieving that goal is filling non-technical management roles with leaders who can effectively frame key day-to-day and strategic business questions and use data and analytics to find the answers.

How valuable are data-savvy managers in non-tech roles? Ninety-six percent of companies seek management candidates proficient in BDA, ranking business analytics among the most in-demand of all skills, increasing the appeal of graduates of programs like the online Master of Business Administration (MBA) with an emphasis in Business Analytics from the University of West Florida (UWF).

Data literacy is “a fundamental skill, akin to reading or writing, that every individual needs to navigate our modern world effectively,” according to business intelligence and data science specialist David Murray. “Without it, we risk being overwhelmed, misinformed, or left behind.

How Do Business Leaders Use DDDM to Improve Business Operations?

Mining unstructured data to identify trends, patterns and anomalies is the foundation of making decisions grounded in fact, not opinion, gut instinct or even experience.

IBM’s best practices for mining big data begin with a basic business competency — clearly state the problem to be solved. Then, a data-literate manager with self-serve access to enterprise data storage and analytics identifies relevant datasets, models potential solutions, evaluates and interprets the results to make decisions.

While virtually all business departments mine data to drive decision-making, IBM cites these examples:

  • Sales and marketing: Companies — particularly those with robust e-commerce operations — collect enormous volumes of customer demographic and behavioral data. Data-savvy managers use that information to optimize customer messaging and drive higher returns on marketing investments.
  • Operations: Enterprises model operational data to identify workflow interruptions, test potential solutions and decide which options to deploy.
  • Fraud detection: Data outliers can provide valuable insights into fraudulent activity, including hacking and other cyber-intrusions. The financial industry uses big data extensively to detect fraud, but SaaS and cloud-based organizations are adopting the strategy to identify fake accounts.

Managers in non-technical roles do not need “the highest proficiency in BDA,” according to research published by the Journal of Management Development. However, it is crucial to have a fundamental understanding of data, the data mining process and what the models describe. The organization notes that “leaders cannot use data to their advantage if they do not possess these necessary competencies.”

How Do Business Professionals Acquire Big Data Analytics Expertise?

UWF’s online MBA with an emphasis in Business Analytics program offers courses that prepare graduates for senior positions in data-driven organizations.

The Big Data Mining: A Managerial Perspective course explores emerging models of DDDM to prepare graduates for management roles that require technical know-how and business expertise. By focusing on the intersection of data mining and business processes such as operations, finance, sales, marketing and supply chain, students learn strategies to unlock big data’s real value: making better decisions faster and with greater certainty.

Big data is “a veritable gold mine,” HubSpot notes, but it can also be intimidating. “That’s where data mining comes in. It takes everything that’s overwhelming about analyzing and managing big data and makes it much more accessible and easier to understand.”

Graduates of an online MBA in business analytics program possess the necessary knowledge and skills to improve business operations in any organization or role.

Learn more about UWF’s online MBA with an emphasis in Business Analytics program.

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