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The raw facts on big data

10 Jul 2015

Australian businesses are getting to grips with big data, according to new research from the Australian Financial Review BOSS Magazine and the University of Sydney Business School.

Respondents to a survey by BOSS Magazine and the Business School showed a fairly good understanding of what big data is – with sixty-four per cent defining it as one of, or a combination of, three things: multiple data sets linked together; the use of data to make evidence-based decisions; and large models which use data to explain complex processes.

Forty-two per cent of respondents to the survey said their company used big data.

“When it comes to big data, it’s not the existence or storage of the data that is really important, but the information and knowledge we can extract from it,” says Professor Sally Wood, Discipline of Business Analytics at the Business School.

“The existence of big data has really led to the awareness of the value of evidence based decision making using rigorous analytics,” she continued. “It’s the use of rigorous analytics with real-time experiments that offer companies a competitive advantage.”

More than 100 surveys were completed by decision-makers at Australian organisations with a minimum of 100 employees nationally.

Of the 58 per cent of respondents not using big data, the reasons largely fell into two categories: cost and lack of understanding about its nature and benefits.

“There is a view [in business] that it’s all about gut instinct and ‘I don’t need data to tell me,’ ” says Professor Wood.

“Then I say, ‘Let’s see how well you can predict the future. Let’s have a data-driven model and let’s pit it against your instinct. Let’s see which one wins.’ Nine times out of 10 it’s the data-driven model [that wins].”

“One of the insights that big data gives is us is the realisation that it’s not ‘one size fits all’. It enables us to drill down and understand our business processes at a very micro-level.” 

Read the full article in the Australian Financial Review BOSS Magazine, and learn more from Professor Sally Wood in our latest opinion box video.