How To Pitch Big Data To Your Chief Financial Officer

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We’ve hooked in the experts to explain why Big Data is a big priority

Big data, the term used to describe massive data sets, is big business. For the last decade or so, big data analytics has helped companies understand consumers, create high performance computers, and bring forward analytics to a stage where artificial intelligence platforms such as IBM’s Watson computer slurps up big data to become one of the smartest computers in the world.

But how can Big Data help out your company? If you are part of a small or medium enterprise that doesn’t yet harness the true business power of big data, check out these explanations and pitches below from big data experts around the world.

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Don’t get lost in the Big Data storm like this guy did


 Sofie Sandell, a leadership and social media expert, says:

“CFO’s love numbers and big data can be used to track what the business is up to in spreadsheets, graphs and graphics. Show your CFO some of these that have been used by other businesses and have a discussion about how beautiful information can be when you present it using graphics. There are books about this topic you can purchase online. This will sparkle ideas about how to share new insights with the rest of organisation.

“Daily the CFO is searching for information and collating it and using it, so the use of big data is already there. If you are suggesting new investments and better use of the data that’s there you need to show what it is that you are after in a confident way. Explore the tools and learn some of the tricks by using them yourself first.

“Big data is all about being smarter with information. Right now we are drowning in figures and there are tools that can help us present this information so that even the busiest C-suit person will be fascinated by it and be able to interpret the world better to make smarter decisions.”

Rupert Brown, CTO Financial Services at Enterprise NoSQL database platform company MarkLogic, keeps it short and sweet. He says:

“Big data delivers value when it is a trusted reservoir, not a landfill site. That means there needs to be: Consistent Quality (i.e. filtration and purity); well understood Capacity and dynamic scaling; and actively managed Collection and Distribution networks.”

Bernard Marr, a performance management expert who advises big international brands on data and analytics, has just written a book on this subject. He explains:

“Today, a successful company needs to understand where its customers are, what they are doing and where they are going. It knows what is happening as it’s happening and allows thatbig data information to guide its strategy. That’s only possible by using Big Data and analytics.

“But the cost doesn’t have to be eye-watering – you don’t have to produce the biggest, most complex database in the world – your aim is the opposite, to get clear about what data you will need and build the smallest, most straightforward database in the world.

“Don’t start with the data, start with your strategy. What are your business objectives? Once you’ve defined them, isolate the big questions to which you need answers so you can focus on your data requirements rather than being overwhelmed by endless possibilities.

“By taking this approach you’ll not only save money, and understand your customers better – Big Data will improve your own business processes and drive performance within your company.

“Less than 10% of all the data held by companies is used to inform decision-making. Put data at the heart of your business and you can outsmart your rivals, whatever their size”.

Jack Norris, chief marketing officer for MapR, tells it like it is. He says:

“When pitching big data to your CFO, it’s important to convey several key points. Big data is not going away.  There is a tremendous amount of information that can be collected and analysed in real-time, which enables organisations to impact business “as-it-happens” through automated processes that shorten data-to-action cycles.”

Luke Moore,  EMEA Sales Director, Crimson Hexagon, examines the social media side of Big Data. Moore says:

“With 2.078 billion active social media accounts in the world, social media data very much makes up part of the big data picture. Crimson Hexagon works with O2, which mines this social Big Data across several parts of its business to inform strategy. For example, data analysis big dataexposed a peak in conversations surrounding people’s summer holiday plans between February and June when bookings were being made, which coincided with a peak in conversations around gym and fitness training in the same period. Based on this insight, O2 can now place offers, promoting wearable products in February to capture those who are already getting fit for their escape to the sun- cutting down on wastage and optimising marketing, PR and sales strategies and ultimately increasing revenue and profit.”

So where does Rackspace stand on the Big Data issue? Paul Bolt, VP of Technology Practice Area for Rackspace, reveals all:

“Successfully pitching in a big data project to your CFO comes down to talking the right language. There’s very little point in going to meet them armed with lots of information about the nuts and bolts of how the technology is going to work because they’re not technical people, they’re numbers people, which is handy because big data is all about numbers. Use terms that your CFO talks and deals in themselves and make sure your numbers are verified and solid, they need to feel reassured that the investment is sound.

“Make sure when you present the projected return on investment it’s multi-dimensional. For example, consider if the project will help to sell a wider portfolio of products, make your marketing or product more effective or help highlight existing inefficiencies. Have a timeline factored in too with key milestones accounted for and be prepared to back up why not investing is a mistake. Any CFO worth their salt can smell risk a mile off, so use external benchmarking where you can to minimise risk.”

Neil Kinson, vice president EMEA for Redwood Software, says:

“The CFO role is expanding across businesses as these professionals are required to gain a big databroader perspective and a wider set of capabilities and skills than ever before. When finance professionals are expected to have a clear view of the big picture at their organisation combined with ready access to up-to-date facts, big data holds a key to delivering valuable business insights. While gathering analytics and reporting of big data offers finance professionals a massive opportunity to display their value to the business, CFOs must first ensure that every core finance and accounting activity operates as effortlessly and accurately as possible.”

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