McKinsey Study: Big Data & Analytics, Talent, and the “Brand”

May 20, 2011 at 12:26 pm 5 comments

By Mary Ludloff

This has been a very busy month for PatternBuilders! Our engineering team is busily testing our Social Media Analytics (SMA) solution, we are looking for companies (or folks) that have a strong social media presence (translation: lots of data feeds and lots of data to work with) that would like to beta it, speaking at pii2011 and MongoSF, and in our copious amounts of spare time, Terence and I are working on our Ebook on Privacy and Big Data (yep, still plugging!). For a sneak peek at SMA, visit our beta page and if you’re interested, sign up for the beta.

Now, on to McKinsey’s study. As you all know, in a previous post I mentioned that McKinsey had just released its study on “Big Data: The Next Frontier for Innovation, Competition, and Productivity.”   Weighing in at a mere (!) 156 pages, it is a deep dive into the potential of big data and analytics across five key areas:

  • Health care in the United States (potential annual value estimated at $300 billion).
  • Public sector administration in Europe (potential annual value estimated at €250 billion—more than the GDP of Greece).
  • Retail in the United States (operating margins estimated to increase by 60%—for an industry that operates on razor thin margins, this is huge).
  • Global manufacturing (increased efficiencies in design and production, more targeted products, and more effective promotion and distribution).
  • Collection and analysis of personal location data (estimated at more than $100 billion in service provider revenue and more than $700 billion in value to consumers and business users).

Anyway you look at it, that’s quite a lot of “potential!” I plan to talk about the report in a number of blog posts over the next month or so (other post topics will also be covered) so look for McKinsey Study in the post title or simply search on the tag “McKinsey.”

What do all these potential gains mean? Well, there’s going to be a shortage of very skilled analytical talent as well as data-driven managers. McKinsey estimates that the U.S. will need:

  • 140,000 to 190,000 folks with “deep analytical skills.”
  • 1.5 million managers and analysts to “analyze big data and make decisions based on their findings.”

Note to all managers, recent college graduates, and really, all of us: it’s time to embrace analytics, become more familiar with the discipline in theory and in practice, and start figuring out the best way to embed it in everything we do. And by everything, I mean ensuring that all our “data” is collected, stored, and then analyzed to inform how we “run” our company or organization. If we do this “right,” we reap tremendous financial benefits and if we don’t, someone else will (which means we lose in terms of sales, market share, productivity, and efficiency savings).

Yes, there will be a talent shortage and you can already see it: just look at any job posting site and search on analytics. The number of jobs returned will simply astound you. Yes, you probably need some people in your company with what we like to call “mad” analytical skills but you don’t want to “silo” the analysis with just a few highly skilled folks. The ability to search and analyze data should really be pushed out to your entire business—across all functions in as near real-time as you can get it (we call this streaming analytics).

That’s why PatternBuilders’ analytical solutions are self-service. We believe that those closest to the “problem,” the business users, should be given the tools they need to solve it—otherwise called empowering the “feet on the street.” But we don’t leave the skilled analysts high and dry either—our tools and solutions are meant for both. If you’re looking for an analytics solution today, I urge you to put something like “easy-to-use” at the very top of your requirements list. In the world we now occupy where the data just keeps on getting “bigger,” those companies that can quickly transform data into information and then use it to drive all their decisions are going to be the leaders in their industries. Everyone else will be struggling to remain in the “game” at best, or out of business at worst.

Which brings me to the concept of the almighty “brand.” In my world (marketing), brand is everything. Heck, to a company, brand is everything! A strong brand usually equates to an industry leader (the Fortune 100) and those that have “it” will pretty much do anything to keep “it.” In the study, McKinsey asks this question:

“Could a company’s access to, and ability to analyze, data potentially confer more value than a brand?”

Holy cow batman! Talk about a business model disruption! And yet, I can see it happening. Look at what was going on in the early 1990’s when Microsoft seemed to “miss” the Internet revolution. But when Bill Gates realized the full potential, he turned the company around (large as it was) in just a few short months and positioned it for its future successes. The return of Steve Jobs revitalized Apple, turning it into the personal device, software, and services powerhouse that it is today. Admittedly, both gentleman are visionaries but what if every company could harness their data and analyze it all the time to identify trends, improve operations, focus sales and marketing efforts, target product innovations, deliver great customer service, and be the very best that they could be? This could very well be the battle between the upstart and the titan: big data and analytics versus the brand. And I am betting on big data and analytics.

Entry filed under: Data, General Analytics. Tags: , , , , , , .

Speaking at MongoSF Conference: Building a Streaming Analytics System with Mongo Reflections on pii2011 and MongoSF and a Shout Out to Rackspace for Great Customer Service

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