No offense, but no matter how big your data is, it might not be doing what it could be.  In actuality, its massive size can really be a barrier to getting the most out of the information it contains. Getting caught up in managing and organizing the sea of data can cause us to lose sight of our purposes and goals in accessing it to begin with.Certainly, use of big data is becoming widespread. A recent report from New Vantage Partners shows the magnitude of this reflected in a survey of Fortune 1000 companies. In that study, 63% of firms reported having Big Data in production in 2015, up from just 5% in 2012, and that same percentage indicated that they plan to invest more than $10 million in big data by 2017.

Just having access to mounds of data is not enough –and it’s not the point.  The point is knowing what we want it for, and tailoring its aggregation and presentation to meet our needs.  The focus is shifting from how to get access to big data (we all have that) toward defining the capabilities and results we expect to get from that access.  It’s really the only way to justify the investments we’re making in getting access to the right information.

We’ve evolved to a tipping point where we finally have the opportunity to ask questions, to be more creative, and to step outside the box on how we operate, establish and research different KPIs that actually mean something. In doing this, it is vital to focus on what’s really important. Like a kid in a candy store … you can go in fifty different directions and get all different types of candy, but in the end -  all you do is throw up.

Investing in big data, like many investments in technology, can represent a significant budget line, so care should be taken to adopt an approach that gets the most possible value from that investment.

Develop Relevant Metrics

Start with the goals you’re employing big data to reach, and work backwards. Interview your team and come up with what everyone needs to see in order to be more effective at their job. This is all about WHO is doing the job, and WHY it’s helping them. Target the data that is relevant to your goals; aggregate related data to produce a report that informs and helps direct action. Make it simple stupid to start so it does not feel like an overwhelming task.

This process can be vastly simplified with the services of companies that specifically serve CRE. They offer different levels of service and specialties so that clients can have access to the specific data they need.

Spot Opportunity

Until recently, the use of big data has been helpful in saving operational costs or speeding up the analysis of larger and more diverse sets of data through aggregation. The inclusion of so-called “unstructured data” like social media content and video, as well as data generated by devices, such as monitors and smart building systems, has expanded the scope of information to which we have access.

The ability to complete complex analysis rapidly and in real time makes firms more nimble. Trends can be identified early, allowing for needed adjustments to be made in a timely way. Considering patterns and trends allows us to identify potential opportunities that would otherwise be missed. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. Big data is the cavalry coming home to save us.

Fully exploiting the potential of big data could be a full-time job, and many firms are creating such positions - but it doesn’t have to. For many professionals, though, it’s something that has to be incorporated into the course of business. In either scenario, finding the right tools is critical to success, but the first order of business is specifying how that data will serve you and what results you expect.

A great way to do this is to find a dashboard app that's easy to use and allows for multiple users and lets you create that first simple step of understanding what you need.

Provide this to everyone at your company that needs to see data real-time to be better and more efficient in making decisions. You need to incorporate culture and change management skills when deploying. Everyone has to buy into why big data will mean something to them. If you do not tackle this first, then it won't have the longevity and results you want.

At our company, we have just touched the surface and we are already seeing amazing results.