The Soft Benefit of Big Data Analytics: Thinking Differently

Joseph Dennis Kelly

It’s an exciting time we live in. New markets are opening, innovative applications are reshaping the IT landscape, and social shifts are driving changes once considered unimaginable. Adapting to these transformations requires a new approach to seeing and thinking.

Investing in Big Data

Big Data AnalyticsFortunately, organizations can masterly navigate the changes transforming their markets and industries. With Big Data analytics (aka predictive or advanced analytics) software, decision makers gain, David Smith – VP of insurance solutions at Igate Patni – explains, “a powerful tool for managing the performance of the organization, both in avoiding risk and recognizing and capitalizing on opportunities.”

By identifying the patterns now shaping tomorrow’s trends – and getting rapid access to crucial real-time insights – organizations can better understand the dynamics changing their enterprises, markets, and industries.

In an InfoWorld Deep Dive report on Big Data analytics, Blue Mountain Labs Founder and CTO David S. Linthicum explains the advantages of gaining the capability to “leverage both structured and unstructured data, and visualize that data together as a single, logical set of information.” He identifies how this software can help organizations shift from traditional BI applications – which primarily show past performance – to Big Data analytics, which provide insight into what is happening right now, and what may likely occur tomorrow, next week, next month, next year.

As Linthicum notes, one of the software’s core advantages is that it enables decision makers to “imply structure at the time of analysis, and thus provide flexibility by decoupling the underlying structure from structured or unstructured physical data.” As a result, they can accurately identify and monitor their organization’s many business drivers. Perhaps more important, they can leverage this information to redirect their organizations. But getting to this level of data sophistication requires a significant change.

Identifying the Soft Benefit

Over the past year, countless experts have detailed insights similar to Linthicum’s. (Linthicum offers, however, what few others have: an 8-step plan for effectively rolling out the technology.) This advice is sound and well-informed. But most of it focuses on the hard benefits, the hard advantages that Big Data analytics can help organizations generate. Few have addressed the underlying soft benefits, which I think may show not only why companies should invest in Big Data Analytics but also why they can’t afford not to.

Simply put, Big Data analytics can change the way an organization – and therefore, its people – thinks. More than this, as Austrian Federal Government CIO Dr. Reinhard Posch suggests, organizations can only leverage this software effectively after they change how they think. How? By changing the underlying logic that organizations use to query data and analyze the results returned, the logic that also drives their operations.

Big Data analytics not only enable organizations to quickly access and track the ongoing stream of global tweets, status updates, texts, videos, and blog posts. It also empowers decision makers with the deep-dive capability they need to accurately query and analyze the opinions shared by their organization’s customers, suppliers, stakeholders, shareholders, and employees.

Accessing this body of public sentiment is one capability. Deciding how to use it is an entirely different matter, one that requires an expanded mindset that contrasts the deterministic model organizations rely on to structure and drive their operations. The new model that seems well matched to the challenge is probabilistic logic.

Making the Shift

Probabilistic logic could become instrumental in using Big Data analytics because it can help organizations leverage the probabilities of future events that the software predicts. By adopting a probabilistic mindset, organizations can gain flexibility that is not possible when using a cause-and-effect (objective logic) approach.

By gaining the capability to better consider and integrate the numerous possibilities which can occur (subjective logic), they could realize a change that CWDN’s Adrian Bridgwater suggests: Replace deterministic applications (similar to objective-oriented logic) with probabilistic applications (similar to subjective-based logic).

It’s a change that could help Western organizations better integrate within the global business environment. As researchers Oliver Bakewell and Anne Garbutt found, international non-government organizations (NGOs) felt the highly deterministic logic framework approach (LFA) prevented them from having the flexibility they needed to work within non-Western cultures and often impeded their ability to effectively plan and implement development projects.

Though the study’s participants acknowledged that deterministic logic could help them think more clearly, overall they felt the LFA prevented them from easily adapting to change, a concern that businesses worldwide are increasingly feeling as they attempt to navigate the uncertainty presently shaping markets worldwide.

And considering the level of flexibility organizations need to effectively run Big Data analytics, and then efficiently leverage the insight they gain, only an approach that based on the probabilities of possible ranges of action, instead of relying on deterministic structures for pursuing iron-clad objectives, seems most appropriate when adapting to the dynamics now driving and transforming our political, social, and economic institutions worldwide.

Many organizations may consider such a shift neither feasible nor desired. For them, there is an alternative: Recent research shows that software-based artificial neural networks can strengthen deterministic logic. But this hybrid may only provide some of the benefits and may delay the more fundamental shift that could prove – as technology becomes more innovative and the world more uncertain – inevitable.

Integrating probability into the core structure could help organizations gain the flexibility, adaptability, and capability needed to dismantle the barriers that long hindered effective knowledge transfer and management, that long prevented effective engagement with their public, but that did help businesses operate in the knowable, Western-centric global climate. But this climate is shifting, and tomorrow no longer seems as determinable as it once was.



About Joseph Dennis Kelly

Joseph is a senior-level editorial and communication specialist with more than twenty years experience in StratCom, MarCom, CrisCom, EditGov, and EditOps. He previously served as a senior editor/writer on SAP’s Global Content Team and as the executive editor of PMI's Knowledge Center. He contributes to the SAP Community Network (SCN), serving as space editor for the Social Media and Social Networks blog. Recent accomplishments include directing SAP’s blogging campaign for Social Media Week 2012, leading the editorial and blogging strategy for SVForum’s inaugural MarketingCamp–Silicon Valley, and developing the digital media strategy for a Pennsylvania state senator’s successful 2012 re-election campaign. @JosDenKelly



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13 Scary Statistics On Employee Engagement [INFOGRAPHIC]

Jacob Shriar

There is a serious problem with the way we work.

Most employees are disengaged and not passionate about the work they do. This is costing companies a ton of money in lost productivity, absenteeism, and turnover. It’s also harmful to employees, because they’re more stressed out than ever.

The thing that bothers me the most about it, is that it’s all so easy to fix. I can’t figure out why managers aren’t more proactive about this. Besides the human element of caring for our employees, it’s costing them money, so they should care more about fixing it. Something as simple as saying thank you to your employees can have a huge effect on their engagement, not to mention it’s good for your level of happiness.

The infographic that we put together has some pretty shocking statistics in it, but there are a few common themes. Employees feel overworked, overwhelmed, and they don’t like what they do. Companies are noticing it, with 75% of them saying they can’t attract the right talent, and 83% of them feeling that their employer brand isn’t compelling. Companies that want to fix this need to be smart, and patient. This doesn’t happen overnight, but like I mentioned, it’s easy to do. Being patient might be the hardest thing for companies, and I understand how frustrating it can be not to see results right away, but it’s important that you invest in this, because the ROI of employee engagement is huge.

Here are 4 simple (and free) things you can do to get that passion back into employees. These are all based on research from Deloitte.

1.  Encourage side projects

Employees feel overworked and underappreciated, so as leaders, we need to stop overloading them to the point where they can’t handle the workload. Let them explore their own passions and interests, and work on side projects. Ideally, they wouldn’t have to be related to the company, but if you’re worried about them wasting time, you can set that boundary that it has to be related to the company. What this does, is give them autonomy, and let them improve on their skills (mastery), two of the biggest motivators for work.

Employees feel overworked and underappreciated, so as leaders, we need to stop overloading them to the point where they can’t handle the workload.

2.  Encourage workers to engage with customers

At Wistia, a video hosting company, they make everyone in the company do customer support during their onboarding, and they often rotate people into customer support. When I asked Chris, their CEO, why they do this, he mentioned to me that it’s so every single person in the company understands how their customers are using their product. What pains they’re having, what they like about it, it gets everyone on the same page. It keeps all employees in the loop, and can really motivate you to work when you’re talking directly with customers.

3.  Encourage workers to work cross-functionally

Both Apple and Google have created common areas in their offices, specifically and strategically located, so that different workers that don’t normally interact with each other can have a chance to chat.

This isn’t a coincidence. It’s meant for that collaborative learning, and building those relationships with your colleagues.

4.  Encourage networking in their industry

This is similar to number 2 on the list, but it’s important for employees to grow and learn more about what they do. It helps them build that passion for their industry. It’s important to go to networking events, and encourage your employees to participate in these things. Websites like Eventbrite or Meetup have lots of great resources, and most of the events on there are free.

13 Disturbing Facts About Employee Engagement [Infographic]

What do you do to increase employee engagement? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Did you like today’s post? If so you’ll love our frequent newsletter! Sign up here and receive The Switch and Shift Change Playbook, by Shawn Murphy, as our thanks to you!

This infographic was crafted with love by Officevibe, the employee survey tool that helps companies improve their corporate wellness, and have a better organizational culture.


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Supply Chain Fraud: The Threat from Within

Lindsey LaManna

Supply chain fraud – whether perpetrated by suppliers, subcontractors, employees, or some combination of those – can take many forms. Among the most common are:

  • Falsified labor
  • Inflated bills or expense accounts
  • Bribery and corruption
  • Phantom vendor accounts or invoices
  • Bid rigging
  • Grey markets (counterfeit or knockoff products)
  • Failure to meet specifications (resulting in substandard or dangerous goods)
  • Unauthorized disbursements

LSAP_Smart Supply Chains_graphics_briefook inside

Perhaps the most damaging sources of supply chain fraud are internal, especially collusion between an employee and a supplier. Such partnerships help fraudsters evade independent checks and other controls, enabling them to steal larger amounts. The median loss from fraud committed
by a single thief was US$80,000, according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE).

Costs increase along with the number of perpetrators involved. Fraud involving two thieves had a median loss of US$200,000; fraud involving three people had a median loss of US$355,000; and fraud with four or more had a median loss of more than US$500,000, according to ACFE.

Build a culture to fight fraud

The most effective method to fight internal supply chain theft is to create a culture dedicated to fighting it. Here are a few ways to do it:

  • Make sure the board and C-level executives understand the critical nature of the supply chain and the risk of fraud throughout the procurement lifecycle.
  • Market the organization’s supply chain policies internally and among contractors.
  • Institute policies that prohibit conflicts of interest, and cross-check employee and supplier data to uncover potential conflicts.
  • Define the rules for accepting gifts from suppliers and insist that all gifts be documented.
  • Require two employees to sign off on any proposed changes to suppliers.
  • Watch for staff defections to suppliers, and pay close attention to any supplier that has recently poached an employee.

About Lindsey LaManna

Lindsey LaManna is Social and Reporting Manager for the Digitalist Magazine by SAP Global Marketing. Follow @LindseyLaManna on Twitter, on LinkedIn or Google+.


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Data Analysts And Scientists More Important Than Ever For The Enterprise

Daniel Newman

The business world is now firmly in the age of data. Not that data wasn’t relevant before; it was just nowhere close to the speed and volume that’s available to us today. Businesses are buckling under the deluge of petabytes, exabytes, and zettabytes. Within these bytes lie valuable information on customer behavior, key business insights, and revenue generation. However, all that data is practically useless for businesses without the ability to identify the right data. Plus, if they don’t have the talent and resources to capture the right data, organize it, dissect it, draw actionable insights from it and, finally, deliver those insights in a meaningful way, their data initiatives will fail.

Rise of the CDO

Companies of all sizes can easily find themselves drowning in data generated from websites, landing pages, social streams, emails, text messages, and many other sources. Additionally, there is data in their own repositories. With so much data at their disposal, companies are under mounting pressure to utilize it to generate insights. These insights are critical because they can (and should) drive the overall business strategy and help companies make better business decisions. To leverage the power of data analytics, businesses need more “top-management muscle” specialized in the field of data science. This specialized field has lead to the creation of roles like Chief Data Officer (CDO).

In addition, with more companies undertaking digital transformations, there’s greater impetus for the C-suite to make data-driven decisions. The CDO helps make data-driven decisions and also develops a digital business strategy around those decisions. As data grows at an unstoppable rate, becoming an inseparable part of key business functions, we will see the CDO act as a bridge between other C-suite execs.

Data skills an emerging business necessity

So far, only large enterprises with bigger data mining and management needs maintain in-house solutions. These in-house teams and technologies handle the growing sets of diverse and dispersed data. Others work with third-party service providers to develop and execute their big data strategies.

As the amount of data grows, the need to mine it for insights becomes a key business requirement. For both large and small businesses, data-centric roles will experience endless upward mobility. These roles include data anlysts and scientists. There is going to be a huge opportunity for critical thinkers to turn their analytical skills into rapidly growing roles in the field of data science. In fact, data skills are now a prized qualification for titles like IT project managers and computer systems analysts.

Forbes cited the McKinsey Global Institute’s prediction that by 2018 there could be a massive shortage of data-skilled professionals. This indicates a disruption at the demand-supply level with the needs for data skills at an all-time high. With an increasing number of companies adopting big data strategies, salaries for data jobs are going through the roof. This is turning the position into a highly coveted one.

According to Harvard Professor Gary King, “There is a big data revolution. The big data revolution is that now we can do something with the data.” The big problem is that most enterprises don’t know what to do with data. Data professionals are helping businesses figure that out. So if you’re casting about for where to apply your skills and want to take advantage of one of the best career paths in the job market today, focus on data science.

I’m compensated by University of Phoenix for this blog. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

For more insight on our increasingly connected future, see The $19 Trillion Question: Are You Undervaluing The Internet Of Things?

The post Data Analysts and Scientists More Important Than Ever For the Enterprise appeared first on Millennial CEO.


About Daniel Newman

Daniel Newman serves as the Co-Founder and CEO of EC3, a quickly growing hosted IT and Communication service provider. Prior to this role Daniel has held several prominent leadership roles including serving as CEO of United Visual. Parent company to United Visual Systems, United Visual Productions, and United GlobalComm; a family of companies focused on Visual Communications and Audio Visual Technologies. Daniel is also widely published and active in the Social Media Community. He is the Author of Amazon Best Selling Business Book "The Millennial CEO." Daniel also Co-Founded the Global online Community 12 Most and was recognized by the Huffington Post as one of the 100 Business and Leadership Accounts to Follow on Twitter. Newman is an Adjunct Professor of Management at North Central College. He attained his undergraduate degree in Marketing at Northern Illinois University and an Executive MBA from North Central College in Naperville, IL. Newman currently resides in Aurora, Illinois with his wife (Lisa) and his two daughters (Hailey 9, Avery 5). A Chicago native all of his life, Newman is an avid golfer, a fitness fan, and a classically trained pianist

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4 Biggest Risks In NOT Using Social Media

April Crichlow

These days social media is critical for success in business. Early adopters have made great strides, using it to engage with customers online and find new clients. For the laggards — typically small businesses that think they don’t have the resources or need for social media — the question looms: “Is social media a fad, or is it here to stay?”

Unfortunately for these companies, social media is here to stay. There are four major risks in not using social platforms as a business tool:

  1. You risk being out of the loop. Social media is a key channel for consumers collecting information and connecting with other consumers. It is also a great opportunity for companies to engage with current customers, as well as potential customers, all over the world. By not using social media, you run the risk of losing customers, credibility, and crucial information that can benefit your business. Even if you choose not to actively participate in discussions, you need be aware and stay informed regarding conversations about your company. Don’t stick your head in the ground and hope for social media to “blow on by.”
  1. You can’t respond to negative comments about your business. When customers are not satisfied with your product or service, one of the first things many will do is complain on Twitter or Facebook, or they will write a bad review online. If you are not actively keeping tabs on these discussions and reviews, they can hurt your reputation and cost you potential business. How can you protect your brand if you don’t know what’s being said about it online? Social media is now the default platform for customer service. Instead of calling an 800 number, consumers want to send businesses a tweet or post something on a Facebook page. When they can’t find you online, they will go to a review site such a Yelp or Merchant Circle to complain and warn other customers. However, if they have a relationship with your company, they are much less likely to take such actions and will instead send you an email or a private message about the problem.
  1. You risk missing the positive comments about your business. Customers also leave positive feedback online about companies with which they do business. However, if they believe their comments won’t be read by the companies they are praising, satisfied customers are less likely to leave feedback.
  1. You risk giving your competitors an unfair advantage. If your competitors are active on social media and you are not, your rivals have a leg up on winning business from potential customers. You don’t allow for comparisons and can’t answer questions in real time. Unless your product or service is overwhelmingly superior, this is one risk you cannot afford to take!

Social media is an excellent forum to participate in discussions happening right now about your business and your industry. Building an active presence on social sites offers numerous opportunities to promote your products and services, provide outlets for customer service, and check up on your competition. It’s not too late to start using social media as a business tool…but one day soon, it might be.

If you are an SAP partner and would like to learn more about this topic, join me on Dec 1st for How to Spend 15 Minutes a Day on Social Without Breaking a Sweat. Register now: (s-user) #SAPMarketingAcademy


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