SAS Report Shows Big Data Paying Off for Big Companies

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SAS has announced the release of a new research report, Big Data in Big Companies, that describes how 20 large firms benefit from big data projects. Report co-authors Tom Davenport of the International Institute for Analytics (IIA) and Jill Dyché of SAS explore how these companies have deployed analytics to generate value from their big data assets.

The report highlights cross-industry, big data success stories. Research participants included AIG, Bank of America, Caesars Entertainment, Carolinas Health Care, CIGNA, Dell, Discover, Fidelity, GE, Macys.com, Schneider National, Sears, T-Mobile, UnitedHealthcare, UPS, Verizon, and Wells Fargo.

 “As we engaged big company executives in conversations about big data for this report, they all agreed that big data is an evolutionary set of capabilities that would have new and sometimes unanticipated uses over time,” said Davenport, research director of the IIA and visiting professor at Harvard Business School, “but every one of these executives conceded that they couldn’t afford to make big data a mere academic exercise. It needed to drive value, and better sooner than later.”

Big data initiatives enable companies to analyze diverse data -- structured and unstructured, from internal and external sources -- and uncover new insights. Executives at the big data early adopters in the report stressed that analyzing big data delivers big payoffs by creating new business capabilities and helping their organizations conduct current processes cheaper, faster and more effectively.

Executives interviewed for the report described the value of combining reporting, analytics, exploration, protection, and recovery on a single big data platform. Big data environments usually coexist with, rather than replace, data warehouse and business intelligence infrastructures already in place. Organizations that were most effective and likely to succeed fostered strong relationships between business and IT.

“Big data was a wake-up call for these executives,” said Dyché, vice president of best practices at SAS. “As high-performance analytics became a reality and performance accelerated, they began realizing what could be done. Sure, companies can use big data solutions to fast-track complex business processes, but the promise of fresh innovation is the real allure of big data for executives. They’re turning their attention -- and their budgets -- to emerging technologies and skills.”

The report found that transforming organizations through analytics requires new skills, leadership, organizational structures, technologies, and architectures. Most organizations surveyed are augmenting existing analytical staff, adding data scientists with IT capabilities who can manipulate big data technologies. Solid knowledge of data architectures, data quality, and master data management hubs are just the beginning for firms pursuing big data as a long-term differentiator, the report concluded.

The report is available for download at no cost here.  [Editor’s note: Registration is required for access.]