Do you really have a big data problem? - Bain & Company

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WSJ.com CIO Journal

Do you really have a big data problem?

Significant insights don’t spring from raw data. Using Big Data effectively requires companies to ask the right questions.

  • December 07, 2012
  • min read

Article

Do you really have a big data problem?

This article originally appeared on WSJ.com's CIO Journal.

For executives who have long wished for better answers, Big Data looks like an easy win. They once pined for more data to inform their decisions; now technology delivers more than they can use.

But as executives know, significant insights don’t spring from raw data. Using Big Data effectively is not a technology challenge that can be solved with a new product or service. It is, rather, a business question.

As the many articles about Big Data talent shortages suggest, executives recognize the need. Companies are working as fast as they can to hire and develop talent that is not only creative, curious and business savvy, but also comfortable working with data and capable of drawing insights from analysis. An expensive new software package is no substitute for the rigorous and demanding process of figuring out which questions to ask.

And new solutions may be unnecessary. When companies go through the work of determining the right questions to ask and where to find the answers, they often discover that they already own the tools they need, either in business intelligence software or in existing database tools.

Rasmus Wegener is a partner with Bain & Company in Atlanta, and Velu Sinha is a partner in Bain’s Silicon Valley office.

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