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"Do not sell us big data analytics!"

12.06.2016| Article

“Do not sell us big data analytics”, said a director of a globally operating company to me a few years ago. “Sell traffic lights instead”, he continued. That is when I realized that I had been selling technology for technology’s sake and at the same time alienating customers of actually understanding how analytics could help them.

While terms such as big data, IoT, and advanced analytics are peaking on the hype curve, it is easy to lose sight of why we are talking about these in the first place. It is not uncommon that companies decide that they want to “go to IoT” or “start using big data” in their business. Motivations vary but probably the worst driver is that everyone is talking about it and probably doing it, hence we must follow.

With me-too attitude among buyers and suppliers one easily forgets that all these fancy terms are just means to an end, the end being business value in many forms. With analytics value is created e.g. through understanding the big picture in business, moving from reactive to proactive actions, doing things more efficiently, and creating new business. All these benefits are possible, but only when you know what you are doing.After all, big data or any other technology term is no panacea.

Pragmatic and arguably the best way to utilize big data and analytics is asking yourself: “Which questions do we need answers to in order to become better?” Big data and analytics can support you finding the answers, but they may not be the best option to defining the questions.

Going back to traffic lights, what was the director talking about? He simply wanted to underline their need: to know what is going on and how well they are doing. Next questions would be: What are the causes for the current situation and what are the action points. First find out questions relevant to your business and after that start utilizing big data and analytics successfully.

This blog post was originally posted in LinkedIn on 


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Emil Ackerman
Managing Director, Quva Oy

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