5 ways to turn data into insights and revenue in 2016

By | 5 minute read | February 11, 2016

In 2016, more than 30% of all companies are expected to pursue data management, advanced analytics and cognitive computing to stay competitive and drive revenue. But except for a handful of leaders (like LinkedIn, Netflix, Nordstrom, Target and Verizon), most companies are still struggling to close the gap between data collection, insights and action.

Experts predict a daunting 4300% increase in annual data generation by 2020. Businesses are already drowning in data and yet how much of that data is truly accessible, accurate and usable? At most companies, the data that matters still exists across disconnected silos, in a variety of formats.

The volume, diversity and complexity of data continue to grow, year after year. While new tools and services are redefining businesses at an incredible speed, many companies are still not sure how to get started.Data into revenue

How data-driven is your company? Are there processes in place to democratize data across your enterprise so even non-technical teams like marketing, sales and HR have real-time access? Does your company treat data as a business asset with real financial value and prioritize projects accordingly? Are your leaders investing in the right mix of technology, people, processes and training to make teams data-driven?

By streamlining the process of gathering and analyzing data for day-to-day business needs and long-term strategic and tactical decisions, you can improve performance and revenue across the organization.

Here are 5 ways to get started:

  1.  Build meaningful cross-functional partnerships to democratize data:

With the staggering growth in data volume, sources and formats, companies need to leverage information across the enterprise and beyond. In the past, only a few employees like business analysts had access to all customer data. But to tap into the true value of your data, all your teams, across the organization, need access to comprehensive data insights, in real-time.

CMOs, CIOs, CTOs and CDOs need to bridge gaps between teams and connect the data, tools and insights that they use. A 360-degree customer view, combined with pooled resources and expertise helps companies implement faster data-to-insights-to-execution business practices.

Clearly, investing in big data tools alone isn’t enough. Companies need to address the lack of critical data skills within their workforce. Leaders should identify “experts” across the organization to train others and customize tools, ensuring that employees have access to the information most relevant to them based on their role.

Solutions like IBM Watson Explorer connect employees and customers with the right information and insights at the right time. Powerful indexing and search ensures that employees across an organization can access the information they need, when they need it. most. 

2.  Cognitive solutions drive higher customer engagement and loyalty

While cognitive computing is often associated with artificial intelligence, it’s also changing the way companies use enterprise search on a day-to-day basis. Cognitive systems like IBM Watson are already interacting naturally with humans to accelerate expertise and positive business outcomes in healthcare, retail, banking, telecom, retail, insurance, wealth management and manufacturing.Cognitive solutions allow you to truly engage with your customers, understand who they are and how they use your products or services. Cognitive capabilities via the Watson Developer Cloud for example, enable organizations to embed interpretive features like image recognition and natural language question-answering in their applications. These enhanced applications bring data, analytics and cognitive insights together, at the scale and speed required by the growth in enterprise data. Companies are already using cognitive solutions to monetize data generated every second of every day from customer interactions.

The average knowledge worker spends 2.5 hours a day looking for information. By using cognitive solutions like IBM Watson, you can give your sales, marketing and customer service teams a unified view of each customer and product and real-time insights needed to detect patterns, understand customers and anticipate their behaviors and needs.

3.  Leverage the power of the hybrid cloud

Not every company is ready for cognitive computing solutions. You first need to a have reliable and secure hybrid cloud solution that allows you to link data across multiple cloud environments and combine external and internal data. Enterprises need the cloud to deploy applications quickly, with minimal configuration, in a cost-effective and scalable format. Once that’s in place, tools like Watson Explorer can search and query data in seconds, regardless of whether it’s on-premise, in public clouds, private clouds or as part of other services.

4.  Unleash the potential of all your unstructured data

There are more data multipliers today than ever before including humans, machines and business processes and the volume of data is growing exponentially. For example, by 2017, health data is expected to grow 99% (88% of it unstructured), insurance data by 94% (84% unstructured) and manufacturing data by 99% (82% unstructured). More than 80% of this data is unstructured and incapable of being processed by existing solutions. Until now.

Is your company deriving valuable insights hidden in documents, emails, chats, call center transcripts, social media content, customer feedback and industry reports? Watson can analyze unstructured content to reveal trends, patterns, insights and relationships that help you better understand and grow your business.

While structured analytics provide the what, where and when of a business challenge, unstructured content analytics provides the why and how. This allows companies to anticipate and identify product defects, improve product design, resource management and services, 
reduce churn, identify competitors and optimize marketing spend.

For example, a manufacturer could anticipate and potentially avoid human injuries, product recalls and negative publicity by analyzing large volumes of customer feedback and incident reports for early identification of issues.

 5.  Start small, but make sure your success is scalable

Did you know that 55% of big data initiatives fail? To meet the ever-changing needs of today’s global marketplace, companies need solutions that are easily scalable across organizations, support redundancy, deliver high performance across a distributed environment and support terabytes of information.

Solutions like Watson Explorer remove barriers of scale and allow companies to develop simple-to-deploy, cloud-ready, big data exploration solutions.

In 2016, expect to see customer-centric companies drive more revenue, redefine customer experiences, reduce risk and solve business problems with data-driven decision making. Are you ready?

IBM Watson combines search and content analytics with cognitive computing capabilities to help you find and understand the information needed to work more efficiently and make more confident decisions, dramatically reducing the amount of time employees spend looking for information.

Interested in learning more?