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April 16, 2014

Microsoft: Stop moaning about big data

Microsoft wants to shake up the way you see and use big data.

By Joe Curtis

Microsoft wants your company to instill a "big data culture" after an IDC study found firms could contribute £53bn over three years to the UK economy.

The tech giant yesterday called on companies to stop "moaning" about the perils of too much information and not to worry about data hygiene after its sponsored IDC research found that businesses using the most diverse data were the most successful.

UK chief envisioning officer Dave Coplin said: "Instead of moaning about problems of having too much information, we should instead as organisations celebrate the opportunity of having that information and what having that information will do for us.

"This is huge about the big data culture. The challenge is all down to the human beings. We don’t solve anything if the culture of the organisation is not in the right place."

He added that by embracing big data, the traditional barriers to using big data, such as the desire for it to be clean and accurate, disappear, because of the volume of information available.

"In the big data world … you won’t worry about the data hygiene because the outliers are always outliers," Coplin said. "In the middle you’ll have the good old friend the normal distribution to show you where the real insight is."

This echoed the view of SAP’s VP of analytics and big data, Shekhar Iyer, who recently told CBR that in terms of information, "anything is an improvement on today", though Oracle warned of the perils of inaccurate data.

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IDC research director Alys Woodward added that a Microsoft-sponsored survey of 2,020 companies across 20 countries found that firms relying on more diverse datasets, using new analytics and sharing the findings with more people at the right time got a 60% greater ROI than others.

UK companies doing all four of the above could contribute an extra £53bn to the economy over the next three years, the report found.

She said: "The timeliness is really a key aspect of the data. Possibly the biggest challenge actually going back over 20 years of business analytics, is we have the data but can we get it quickly enough?"

Woodward also viewed old, unexamined business information, often known as dark data, as less useful, saying: "It’s definitely something to look at to see if you can use it but don’t be shy to say there’s not much value in such data. Don’t be a data hoarder."

Microsoft’s Coplin disagreed, saying archaic business information was a "goldmine of data", and added that businesses just needed the correct tools to manage big data, before Satya Nadella’s announcement of Microsoft’s three big data releases, including its "big data in a box" Analytics Platform Service.

Coplin also claimed firms needed to look at other uses for such information than business insights.

"We’ve got to start get them out of this business intelligence, analysis stuff – as important as it is – to start to help them to look up," he said, saying firms could monetise information or merge it with other data streams.

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