Virtually, every organization out there is looking to get the most out of the Big Data available to them, but very few are clear what exactly that entails. ORTEC Consulting, being a company that’s been advising clients on data analytics for over three decades, believes it’s crucial we have a vision when it comes to Big Data that will underpin our work with clients in this area. For us, that vision is about looking beyond the technology by exploring new ways to help businesses transform their data into solutions that adds real value to their core business.
Big Data, is a trending term that has been on everybody’s lips lately. But, what exactly is ‘Big’ Data? Basically, it’s data that continues to collect in such vast quantities and/or in complex forms that your traditionally-structured databases simply can’t process effectively. Which, in turn, means its owners can’t utilize this potential goldmine of information lying at their fingertips.
“…for any organization, generating Big Data has become a priority to ensure they can effectively manage it…”
For any organization, generating Big Data has become a priority to ensure they can effectively manage it, store it, access it, and harmonize it with other data sources. Now, plenty of companies — some of them trusted partners of ORTEC — provide the technology to do that for you in the form of a ‘Big Data Portal.’
“…how are you going to use your Big Data, now being managed so carefully on a platform, to actually add value to your business?”
Big Data Big Insights
Such platforms are indispensable, but beg the question: what are you going to manage your Big Data carefully on a platform so that it adds value to your business? A Big Data platform is a necessary part of the Big Data solution but lacks a key part of the puzzle: being able to frame the right questions to deliver the right answers.
Until the last few years, we’ve mainly been helping clients by identifying patterns in their processes or supply chain and finding ways to model or analyze their data so it optimizes their business operations. But with the advent of Big Data, we’re increasingly applying our know-how to the areas of predictive analysis and forecasting, as we feel this is where businesses will leverage the most added value from their Big Data. With that, it might be time for a new approach.
- Firstly, to frame the interesting questions and
- Secondly, to leverage Big Data technology to answer those questions.
Cutting-Edge and Cost-Effective
ORTEC Consulting focuses on analyzing data by using state-of-the-art infrastructure provided by established cloud-based Big Data platform providers. This has two main advantages:
- Your data is always managed using the very latest technology and techniques, which in an industry evolving at snail speed, is vital. Up until recent years, people hadn’t heard of NoSQL or Hadoop, today they’re seen to be essential to Big Data management; but that may all change overnight.
- Renting platform services is the most cost-effective and worry-free option
The Portal to Success
As a cornerstone of our vision to ensure our clients get the most out of their Big Data, we have developed the ‘Big Data Portal.’ Essentially, the portal lets clients focus on the question ‘what can I do with my data?’ and provides them with ease of mind from any technical issues.
So how does it work? We first create an account for you on the Big Data Portal and then help you choose a ‘workflow’ from existing templates or you can define your own. Here’s a short overview:
- The workflow specifies the steps of the analysis in which you are interested
- g. fraud detection or customer segmentation
- The workflow will connect to your various data sources
- g. operational database, unstructured data, data warehouse, external sources of data such as census data, etc.
- We then run multiple algorithms and analysis scripts to extract patterns from that data.
- And finally, we would produce a user-friendly report that presents our insights based on the analyses and flags up any opportunities we see for your business.
To make the portal more cost-effective, we’ve developed various workflow templates that address specific standard requirements or typical issues face companies in a particular sector may face in any given situation. For example, fraud detection in the Financial Services sector or finely-segmented shopper behavior patterns for companies with loyalty cards.
Clients are also able to create their own workflows or have our consultants create bespoke workflows for them to address a specific business challenge. For example, we recently developed a revenue management analysis for an international parcel carrier to help them keep track of their client contracts. This enabled them to better align pricing to what companies are prepared to pay in different sectors and countries, replicating the kind of dynamic pricing used by airlines.
“…how many companies have really thought with a completely open mind about the possibilities Big Data might offer their business?”
Big Data, Big Picture
Big Data is a relatively new phenomenon and there’s not a CEO out there who’d deny its importance. Yet, how many companies have really thought about the possibilities Big Data might offer their business?
In response to the serious Big Data strategy gap still apparent within many companies, we have a way to help businesses in that aspect, we’ll call it ‘The Big Data Big Picture.’
Instead of only developing solutions to problems you have already identified, our experts take your data sources and deeply analyze them. Visualizing the data, coloring it, selecting all sorts of different filters and generally just exploring the data until interesting patterns start to emerge.
We then produce a highly interactive report in the form of a ‘dashboard’ that we place online for the customer to access. The report will highlight certain insights. For example, how peaks in shopper activity in a certain region at certain times of day also correlate with peaks in the local weather. Using their deeper knowledge of their own business, the customer can then drill down to reveal insights in more granular detail. In this case, for example by age, income, type or value of goods, etc.
With the possibilities almost as endless as data itself, such an investigative study can often give you a competitive edge and might even ignite the next game-changer for your sector. Almost always such studies raise interesting new questions that warrant further, more focused investigation.
ORTEC Consulting believes that Big Data is never the end in itself, but always remains a means to adding value to the business.
If you’re interested in seeing what we can do, contact us and we’ll send out our consultants to visit your office for a free session. They’ll discuss what Big Data sources you have and brainstorm with your team on how we can best help your business. Perhaps in completely new ways that had never occurred to you (or your competitors) before.
Steven van Dijk is Manager Technology & Innovation at ORTEC Consulting Group. Steven holds a PhD. in Computer Science from Utrecht University where he worked as a researcher on automatically constructing (learning) high-quality Bayesian networks from data with genetic algorithms. Since 2004 Steven works at ORTEC and ORTEC Consulting Group as Software Engineer and Software Architect.
Interview written by Tom Collingridge.