Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Big Data - What's in it for the Little Guy?

I had the pleasure of speaking at the LIFT-IT Big Data Panel hosted by the Long Island Forum for Technology on June 19.  The other speakers included Pete Moran, CEO of General Sentiment, who gave a fascinating talk on the use of Big Data and Analytics in Social Media, as well as Darryl Ramsey and James Toscano of Juniper Networks.  Many thanks to the moderator, Peter Rothman, CIO of Alcott HR and Chairman of the LIFT-IT group, as well as Diane Muscarella of LIFT for organizing the event.

While the other speakers were focused on the more typical aspects of Big Data, I decided to address the topic of "Small Data", specifically the data and analytics needs of small and medium sized businesses.  You can find my presentation, Big Data for the Little Guy:  What's in it for the rest of us?, on the REanalyze web site.

Not every company deals with “big” data, but every company can use data and analytics to make better decisions and transform their business.  There’s no “magic” solution, and the answer won’t just “pop out” of a Business Intelligence tool.  Rather, it’s a matter of framing the problem, defining the data requirements, and visualizing the data.  I suggested that business executives start by asking and answering three simple questions:
  1. What business questions are you trying to answer?
  2. What data do you need to answer the questions?
  3. How can you visualize the data to gain insight?

One deceptively simple, yet powerful, way to frame an analytics problem is by asking 

“If we only knew _____ , we could ______.”  

Just fill in the blanks, and you’re well on your way to a specific, actionable problem statement that can lead to an analytics solution.

The presentation included some examples, as well a brief case study from a client, a medical components distributor looking to improve its Demand Planning and Inventory Management capabilities.  I concluded with the following takeaway: 

  • Data without analysis is nothing…
  • Analysis without insight is nothing…
  • Insight is everything

What are your thoughts on Big Data and Analytics for the Little Guy?  I’d love to hear your comments.  Until next time...



Rob Ende is Founder and President of REanalyze Inc., a Supply Chain, Inventory Management and Analytics consultancy based on Long Island, New York.  Rob can be reached at 631-807-2339 or

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