Who's got the biggest...?

So, the first thing to ask before I get too far into this blog post should be whether size really matters?

Or is it actually what you do with it that counts?

And, yes, we’re obviously talking about data. What else?

You’ll have gathered from my previous blogs that data is what occupies pretty much all of my time and my enthusiasm seems have rubbed off on at least one TSG customer who now describes himself as a bit of a data freak!

Apparently, when it comes to size Walmart leads the way, processing an incredible 40 petabytes of data per day.

They were the first to deploy a terabyte-scale database as early as 1992 and were at a figure of 2.5 petabytes stored in 2008, which is an indicator of the exponential growth in the data held and analysed by large organisations.

Analysis’ is the key word here. Without effective systems in place they can’t anticipate the needs of more than 145 million Americans.

Despite its huge complexity, even Walmart had to start somewhere. The key question is how do you get something this huge off the ground?  

With the above in mind, the starting point for any Business Intelligence (BI) or analytics project, however large or small, is to ask why you’re doing it. There’s a good chance at least one of your competitors is already thinking about how to harness their data, but the key thing to ask yourself first is: what do you want to achieve?

In Walmart’s case, it was startlingly simple: “how do we increase customer spend?”

The complexity behind Walmart’s question is mesmerising for what is, ultimately, a very simple question. 

Typically, that involves pulling data from multiple sources, both internal and external, and structuring it into a coherent dataset. This enables them to quickly answer any question.

A dataset that works for BI is unlikely to look the same as a database that sits behind something like CRM, where the primary requirement is to investigate individual records rather than analyse wider trends.

A CRM database is structured data – data that is very organised. Think CRM, Excel spreadsheets and databases. Unstructured data is generally considered everything else – it can be Twitter data, blog posts, emails; pretty much anything. By definition, unstructured data is difficult to index and search. Structured data is, unsurprisingly, easier to work with. But unstructured data can hold significant value too.

The monumental task of pulling together and organising unstructured data, which is time-consuming, can put a lot of businesses off. But what if you could quickly and bring together data from multiple, seemingly disparate sources?

Qlik Sense is a next-generation data analysis, management and visualisation tool. By taking the work out of structuring once-unstructured data, your data analysts can spend their time adding real value by analysing your now-organised data and making informed business decisions based on customer actions and interactions. When implemented well, Qlik Sense will allow you to spot hidden trends in your data you might otherwise miss.

Whilst many businesses have long understood the serious competitive advantage that BI can give their organisation, it’s only in recent years that it’s no longer been seen as just for big corporations. In 2017 you can expect BI to become more mainstream and available, and less of a ‘nice to have’.

All businesses have data, but how many are using it to shape the products they sell, the services they offer or their sales and marketing activities? Qlik Sense makes sense of your data, both structured and unstructured, and works extra hard so that you can add value and become more productive than ever.

So what are you waiting for?