In the World of Big Data the Team With the Best Insights Wins

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It’s nearly 2020 – what’s your enterprise data strategy?

Managing data is hard.  Its diversity is growing in both nature and structure.  It is usually fragmented across numerous systems, and it multiplies continuously.   We as business users/data consumers continue to ask harder questions.  We expect better answers.  We bring new sources/types of data underneath our magnifying glass – so the enterprise has more types and quantity of data available for analytics than ever before. 

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Source: IDC/EMC Digital Universe Study 2012 Computer Sciences Corporation

As depicted in the chart above, experts expect that, by 2020, we’ll be generating 35 zettabytes of data per year.  By the way – a zettabyte (ZB) is 1,000 exabytes, and an exabyte is a billion gigabytes. Clearly, the amount of data on tap is growing, mostly because of the following:

Variety – Different forms of data. Today’s data is being generated from more places than ever before:

  • From thousands of sensors in planes, trains, and automobiles and other assets, pre-empting part failure – to new web technology that tracks granular user behavior and movement across the web, mobile, and social media channels.
  • An explosion of category-defining enterprise applications – such as FinancialForce, Captora, Zenefits, Base CRM, Slack, Hortonworks, and Zuora – are generating new data points about customer interactions.
  •  The ability to make sense of unstructured data.  See how retailers are using unstructured data to raise their game, and consider the different types of data businesses now have at their disposal, depicted in the chart below.

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Velocity – Data is being generated faster than ever thanks to real-time data capture. But we also have the ability to process data faster – models processing incoming streams of data in real-time are replacing those requiring days for processing.  For example, Paypal’s fraud detection solution analyzes 5M+ transactions each day in real time.  With Apache Storm/Spark and Tibco Streambase, the technology is keeping pace with the demand.

Volume – Applying analytics to more data leads to better insights. Big data technology has evolved to be able to process many times more data on commodity hardware – multiplying the quality of the resulting analytics and insight while reducing hardware, software, and processing costs.  See how Google and Facebook are solving the language translation problem by using more data.  

And in this ongoing data renaissance, a new perspective is emerging:

  • Data is a strategic corporate asset – and there’s no such thing as stale data.
  • Business can be optimized by harnessing big data, which reveals secrets to those with the patience and capability to listen
  • These insights will increasingly continue being a source of new value and innovation for the enterprise.

And what about the impact of big data on Finance and enterprise performance management (EPM) processes?  EPM can leverage big data in a number of ways.  The bar is being raised for EPM solution providers.  EPM applications must keep pace with growing enterprise data volumes and demands for quicker, near-real-time analytics – or risk falling behind.  Mergers and acquisitions have a multiplicative impact on data fragmentation and volume. 

Coupled with the need for current, accurate data for budgeting, forecasting, and management reporting, it’s clear that FP&A professionals will see a tremendous amount of value from cloud-based EPM solutions that leverage big data architecture and integration technology.  Several underling elements drive this value:

  • Scale of data that can be stored, segmented, and analyzed
  • Advances in performance in processing big data
  • Cost savings from the SaaS model
  • Predictive analytics providing increasingly intelligent forecasts and insight

Many examples in the news show the risks of not keeping up with what’s happening in your business.  Some recent ones include Walmart, Pier 1, and Netflix

Internally, at Host Analytics, we take advantage of having our own Sales Planning solution tightly integrated with our Salesforce CRM and Netsuite Financials.  This application provides real-time, granular insights into our pipeline/booking trends, in-flight services project margins, revenue forecasts, and more – all of which help us make critical business decisions.

And it’s apparent with our customers as they continuously ask us to provide more capabilities with our data integration platform and capabilities.  In their requirements, we see a sharp increase in the number of inter-connected applications and connection points in general, data volumes, sophistication of use cases, and need for compliance with corporate data governance standards.

 Here are a few examples:

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As our customers hone their vision, strategy, and execution plans to harness big data analytics, we greatly welcome having broader conversations around the following:

  • Enterprise data strategy and how we can contribute
  • Reducing data rework and overhead to maximize consumption and analysis
  • Integrating/extending financial and operational data assets for deeper insight and greater business value

At the end of the day, in the age of big data, the team with the best insights wins. 

To learn more about how your organization can leverage cloud-based EPM solutions to harness big data, read this recent Forrester Research Report.

EPM Marketing Landscape White Paper

 

Posted by on December 17, 2015
Topics: Big Data
John O'Rourke

John O’Rourke is Vice President of Strategic Marketing at Host Analytics. With a background in accounting and finance, John has over 30 years of experience in the software industry and 20 years of experience in EPM product marketing at Hyperion Solutions, Oracle and Host Analytics. He has worked with many customers and partners on financial reporting and planning initiatives and has spoken and written on many topics in EPM. John has also held positions in strategic marketing and product marketing at Dun & Bradstreet Software, Kenan Systems, and Decisyon. John has a BS degree in accounting from Bentley University and an MBA from Boston College.

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