Find gold in your Big Data money pit

How Journey Analytics Empowers Businesses to Drive Value from Big Data

Big Data has been called the new Oil or Electricity for the 21st century - a new kind of power that changes everything it touches in business, government and private life. Many see Big Data as a game changer that will transform how we live, work and think. This is based on the core belief that by capturing more data from daily activities, organizations will be able to make better and more informed decisions.

Underpinning these predictions is a new class of Big Data technologies that provides the capability to store and process massive amounts of data, in any format, on low-cost commodity hardware with Open-source software. Market adoption of Big Data technologies is enormous, with more than 75 percent of companies investing or planning to invest in Big Data in the next two years according to Gartner.

Is the hype real?

For all the hadoopla about big data being poised to reshape industries —people in the trenches are telling a different story. Dozens of companies share the same story with me over and over:

  • IT team invests in a Hadoop Cluster
  • Data is loaded and co-mingled
  • IT asks the Business how they want to use this this new service
  • Business struggles to find value and justify

This is because finding the relevant business insight nuggets in the mounds of data is exceptionally difficult. In fact, most companies who have invested, or are planning on investing in Hadoop, don't know if their ROI will be positive or negative according to Gartner. This uncertainty highlights the challenges in determining and validating the value of big data projects.

Most of the justification or ROI in today's Big Data environments are based on cheap(er) data storage and scalable data processing. While there has been value here, as a means to reduce reporting and EDW infrastructure costs, few of these projects deliver any net new Business Insight that goes beyond internal cost cutting.

We're asking the wrong question

One of the reasons the Business has struggled is because their Business Intelligence (BI) tools were never designed to manage the variety, volume and velocity of required for the "Horizontal Analytics" of big data.

"The vast majority of analytics happening today ... are vertical analytics - designed to serve the needs of the business units they serve, rather rather than monetize the full power of the data at the organization’s disposal by looking at information in an integrated, horizontal way" Lori Beida, VP Business Analytics and Insight, BMO

As a result, business analysts are often left to sit on the sidelines, unable to collaborate with data scientists. While there are published examples of Data Scientists finding high value patterns and insights, there are many obstacles in the way of getting there, including:

  • The challenge in dealing with messy data that originated from multiple sources that were never designed to be co-mingled. This is why data scientists spend up to 80 percent of their time "wrangling" data rather than generating new business insights.
  • Finding experts who are capable of handling the full alchemy of big data (including statistics, SQL, R, Python, Machine Learning, ETL and business knowledge) is extremely difficult. This is why 37 percent of respondents in a recent Accenture study say they lack the talent to run big data and analytics on an ongoing basis.

Thankfully there is now a third option to drive compelling business insights from Big Data environments - Journey Analytics. In this CMS Wire article, where Forrester calls Journey Analytics "the next frontier in customer-obsessed insights", Tina Moffett and Joana van den Brink-Quintanilha say: journey analytics "helps companies combine quantitative and qualitative data to optimize customer interactions and predict future behaviors."

Journey analytics has become a compelling approach to driving business value from big data for several reasons:

  • Customer journeys and interactions have become increasingly complex and omni-channel, particularly with the increase of digital and mobile usage.
  • Understanding and leveraging the customer experience has become a competitive necessity:
How can companies remain relevant to today’s customers? Transform into an institution that elevates experience above all," Alice Milligan, Managing Director and Chief Customer and Digital Experience Officer at Citi.
  • Journey analytic companies give business users unique insights into things like customer actions and cost impacts:
"We can finally trace the multitude of things a customer does and how it affects the bottom line of our business," Lori Bieda, Head of Analytics - BMO

The Paradigm Shift to Journey Science

Journey analytics is a fundamental shift from traditional data science in that:

  • The data tells the story. The business user does not start with an assumption of where an opportunity exists.
  • The business user is empowered. Business users, leveraging journey analytics applications like ClickFox, have access to connected, summarized journey data, without IT involvement.
  • Specialized Tool Availability. Journey science solutions surface business opportunities automatically. The business user then conducts a deeper dive to look at the root cause.
  • Holistic journey specific metrics and monitoring. Business changes and improvements are operationally scored and monitored. Specific interaction patterns that are identified as predictors for certain outcomes (such as attrition, fraud) are set and automatically triggered.

For organizations with complex channel environments, this approach may sound too good to be true. This will be particularly true if you have struggled to drive insight through homegrown efforts, at high cost and with little success.

The alchemy to driving immense value from Big Data has more to do with having the right tools than it does with magic. Companies adopting a journey science approach can attest; there's gold in those data lakes! The dredges and sluicers of the 21st century natural resource, data, come if the form of specialized journey analytics solutions.

Brian Rowatt is the Senior Director of Client Engagement at ClickFox, and is responsible for overall client value delivery and program success.  Prior to ClickFox, Brian held various leadership roles DWL/IBM, Siperian (Informatica) and Oracle where he was responsible for their Master Data Management (MDM) programs for North American Financial Services companies.  Brian also ran the Eastern Canadian for Cloudera, the largest Hadoop company globally.

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