Tim Royston-Webb

As I talk to many business leaders, time and time again I hear the same frustrations, “I’m drowning in Data, what I need are real insights to drive my decision-making”.

Despite these frustrations and the volume of data available, I am amazed at the degree to which decisions are still being taken on what is often a very small number of discreet data points, with businesses often using separate disconnected data sets from different vendors to make decisions.

So, is data a definitive thing, a trusted source, a fact or figure that can be referenced to reinforce or justify a statement or decision? If so then surely it doesn’t matter the size of the data set, if a necessary fact can be derived? Well, it’s not a Yes or No answer, in fact, its Yes and No!

How Real Decisions Are Made
In daily life, when looking at any situation, do we look at just one side of an argument or issue? No, because in open freethinking societies we shift our viewpoints to consider other views. In practice, this means triangulating our understanding with many differing sources and views to get much richer information on which to make well-informed decisions. Therefore, our perspectives and rationales change dependent on varying factors and the information available at hand. Such an approach however, requires a common context with, as a minimum, some aligned data points for consideration.

If this is how we naturally make our daily decisions, why should our use of data to inform business decisions be any different? Seeing how we make informed decisions on a personal level, is there any surprise that there is a real desire to get deeper and richer perspectives and therefore real insights from the data sources we use at a corporate level?

Finding Real Insights

So, with so much data available this should be easy, shouldn’t it? If everyone is drowning in data there must be enough relevant information to provide real insights, right? Sadly, the real problem is the complexity to align available data to provide the triangulation and joined up views required. Different definitions, taxonomies, standards and complex data integration makes finding actionable insights from data sources a real problem.

Stepping away from the technology sector to show a real-world example, let’s use a topical issue right now in the EU, Brexit to make a point. The question remains, how many ill-informed choices were made on both sides of the argument with an inaccurate application of individual non-joined up facts preventing a well-rounded argument to support decision making? How many non-fact based subjective views were fueled by bias and prejudice? Well, the answer can be seen in the general confusion and frustration arising after the post-Brexit vote. Prime Minister Theresa May could easily be one of the business leaders quoted in my opening gambit, “I’m drowning in Data, what I need are real insights to drive my decision-making”.

Informed Decisions Come from The Intersection of Data
Returning to technology intelligence, At HG Data we believe that value is derived best when we can use data like we should use information in daily life, looking through different dimensions of interconnected facts and figures to see different perspectives of a client, contract or opportunity to identify the subtleties behind a situation that will inform a decision. We believe real value is actually in the intersections of data.

Let me provide an example of how value can be derived in this way using 3 seemingly unrelated Big Data points:

  • Company A has an outsourcing contract with Company B due for renewal in 12 months
  • Company C has an outsourcing contract due for renewal in 10 months
  • Company D has an outsourcing contract with Company E in 12 months

What we have here in isolation are a number of data points that individually are useful but don’t provide sufficiently rich insights on an opportunity. In fact, we could look at each and make many assumptions.

However, by building relationships between facts and interconnecting ‘small data’ we can start to build richer insights:

  • Company A has an outsourcing contract with Company B due for renewal in 12 months
  • Company A isn’t very happy with Company B’s delivery performance.
  • Company B just released poor financial results
  • Company B has just partnered with Company C
  • John a CTO at company A has traditionally had good relations with Company C

A service provider now looking at this opportunity may indeed decide to prioritize this opportunity as the client’s dissatisfaction provides an opportunity for displacement. The service provider may also seek to partner with C or factor in this association into their sales strategy with company A.

This type of in-depth data when combined produces actionable insights. Indeed, Forbes.com (2013) confirms “Data is meaningless unless it helps make decisions that have measurable impact. Unfortunately, many decision makers are ensnared rather than enlightened by Big Data, preventing data and insights from making it to the front lines in relevant and usable forms”.

Finding Winning Opportunities
I recently caught up with a global technology service provider that used the joined-up approach I advocate to build a picture of an international customer’s installed technologies across its many sites. By joining company, spending and installed base data they were able to see across a company’s sites and installations to identify an opportunity for consolidation within the company that the global provider was well placed to fulfill. The positive outcome was a huge order win, made possible by the real insights provided by the ‘small data’ between the ‘big data’ points.

Combining Small and Big Data for Richer Insights
At HG Data, our solution has always been to standardize, building and integrating data sources that allow for cross sectional views of companies, opportunities, installed technologies, transactions and announcements allowing ‘small data views’, integrating several data facts in this way makes for much richer insights.

We believe that What you see depends on what you look for.  By combining a Big and Small Data approach, we allow you to see the opportunities others can’t by providing an ability for you to see value and insight in the intersections of data.

I urge every business leader to challenge their data approach, to see how it can be improved using the Big and Small Data principles championed by HG Data to provide the richer sourcing insights they demand.null

HG Data: Big Data World

HG Data will be demonstrating the world’s most advanced technology intelligence platform at Big Data World on 12/13 March at ExCel London. Please visit Tim Royston-Webb and the team at Stand BI06 to see how HG Data’s best-in-class IT tech and spend intelligence can help achieve aggressive sales growth. Avoid the rush and click here to book a bespoke demonstration at Big Data World.

Hear more from Tim Royston-Webb at Big Data World 2019 when he delivers the keynote speech Lessons from the Field – Achieving Data Centricity.
Date: 13 March 2019 . Time: 13.20pm . Venue: Data Analytics & BI Theatre, ExCel London

About Tim Royston-Webb
Tim Royston-Webb is a technology entrepreneur and big data activist recognized as one of the most prominent voices in advocating data science best practices for the delivery of actionable insights within the technology vendor sector. He is the co-founder of Pivotal iQ, highly commended by Computing Magazine as one of the world’s leading technology intelligence platforms. In 2018, Pivotal iQ was named ‘Great British Scaleup’ by TechMarketView and in the same year was acquired by HG Data, the market leader in technographics.

Bringing a comprehensive and independent point of view, Tim is passionate about helping providers and enterprises benefit from big data insights that drive real value into their businesses. His groundbreaking whitepaper, Propensity Modelling for Business (2017), has helped shape the use of data analytics in the technology sector, particularly the use of propensity scoring to identify customer opportunity and minimize risk.

A big data thinker with an analytical mindset, his focus currently is on redefining technology intelligence and establishing HG Data as the global thought leader in actionable insights. Tim holds an MBA from Cumbria Business School and is a founder member of the Data Science Foundation.