As the name would imply, Big Data is indeed getting bigger. Not only are businesses analysing more and more metrics, but the actual size of the information store is growing exponentially.
For the IT manager, this is a technical challenge – but the rest of the business is most interested in the insights being generated.
However, there are two problems with many Big Data projects:
Firstly, many organisations focus on line-of-business data, the information held in ERP, CRM, sales and service systems. Obviously this is where the majority of actionable insights will be found, but focusing solely on these systems means that you can miss other information that supplies context for instance. Email remains the most common channel for communications with customers and colleagues alike – so being able to unearth the contents of those conversations could also prove fruitful.
Second, Big Data analytics remains a relatively niche specialism, best performed by data scientists to ensure findings are accurate. The tools, skills and time required are far beyond the capabilities of your average end-user.
Plugging the Big Data gaps
With these two points in minds, Microsoft Office 365 has some useful tools to help strengthen your information discovery programme (or to get started if you’ve waited until now). Delve is one such tool, designed in such a way that everyone can leverage the power of Big Data to work more efficiently.
Delve runs in the background of your Office 365 environment, working in much the same way as a search engine. But more than simply indexing web pages, Delve monitors the contents of your Outlook inbox, OneDrive files, calendar and instant messages. When you use Delve to search for something – like the name of one of your clients – it then returns all assets related to that search term. Similar to Big Data, you gain an insight from your wider information store.
Not just search
Delve may sound like a search engine, but it also uses another more advanced technology to make those search results more relevant – machine learning. Because Delve is constantly running in the background, the results returned are accurate and up-to-the-minute.
More importantly, Delve pays attention to how you actually use Office 365. This low-level monitoring helps the system understand the information and tools that are most useful to you. Over time, the system learns these preferences, surfacing data that is most relevant to your needs. The same preference-driven searching is available to all of your users, tailoring system use and data searches to their habits as well.
Allowing anyone to apply Big Data insights
Most Big Data programs are focused on “big” results – identifying and closing higher-value sales, or streamlining whole-business processes. But Big Data techniques can be used to improve individual performance too.
MyAnalytics, available in some Office 365 subscription packages, is another tool that provides monitoring of the activities you undertake using the platform. Just like Delve, MyAnalytics is constantly running in the background, using machine learning to understand how you work.
Your users are able to access MyAnalytics to see how they spend their day, and providing guidance on where individual productivity gains could be made. If employees are having to spend 3-4 hours using email, there’s a very good chance that they do not have sufficient time to complete other tasks. These low-level insights can then be used by your own employees to streamline their own working habits, improving job satisfaction and helping them deliver a better service to your clients.
For businesses already engaged in Big Data projects, or considering starting their first, Office 365 provides several tools to assist. The reality is that your corporate data stores will continue to grow, and simply storing that information isn’t enough. Instead you will need a comprehensive suite of powerful yet intuitive tools that allow your entire team to manage data and extract valuable insights from it.
Office 365 offers several such tools, and could play an important role in helping your business gain profitable control of its data mountain.
- Big Data is not simply for making big changes.
- Delve puts data analytics and machine learning at your users’ fingertips.
- MyAnalytics can help your team become more productive.
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