Big Data Changes the Game in Strategy & Competitive Differentiation (Part 1)

Big data and high performance analytics (HPA) are changing the game and sweeping the world in terms of competitive differentiation.  According to IBM, “Every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data — so much that 90% of the data in the world has been created in the last two years alone.”  Harvard Business Review says “As of 2012, about 2.5 exabytes of data are created each day and that number is doubling every 40 months or so.”  Where does all this data come from?  Everywhere!  Large scale data is collected through cell phone GPS signals, digital photos and videos, purchase transaction records, sensors used to gather climate information, posts to social media sites… to name a few. This data is big data. 


How big is this big data?  During the 90 minute 2012 first presidential debate, there were 10 million tweets.  That is BIG, but nothing compared to the 340 million tweets that are sent per day.  That’s nearly 4,000 tweets per second!  More than 5 billion people are calling, texting, tweeting and browsing websites on mobile phones daily.  There are 864 million payment card transactions every day.  That’s 10,000 payment card transactions are made every second around the world.  Facebook has one billion  active users generating social interaction data.  RFID (radio frequency ID) systems generate up to 1,000 times the data of conventional bar code systems.  Walmart handles 1 million customer transactions per hour and collects more than 2.5 petabytes of data every hour from its customer transactions. (A petabyte is one quadrillion bytes or the equivalent of about 20 million filing cabinets’ worth of text.  An exabyte is 1,000 times that amount or one billion gigabytes.)  Big data is also used in call detail records, scientific research, military surveillance, medical records, large-scale e-commerce, and multiplying daily.   What does it all mean?


Crunching data on people’s habits and behavior at this large scale has never happened before.  The sheer volume of information can even seem distracting.  It can be frustrating to know that buried within these mounds of information are key bits of information that we need to make smarter decisions.


With all this information, how do you get answers?  How can all this data help you?

  • Amazon (cloud host) uses this data to figure out what people want and will buy.
  • Retail transforms a single shopper’s path into as many as 10,000 data points so they can see how shoppers move through a store, where they pause and how that tracks with sales.
  • Energy companies use big data to crunch data on fuel consumption habits.
  • Financial institutions use it to determine risk and uncover fraud.
  • As part of the “Big Data Initiative,” the Department of Defense launched XDATA, a program that intends to invest $25 million toward systems that analyze massive data sets in record time. With more efficient number crunching, the U.S. military can funnel petabytes of data toward cutting edge advances, such as making unmanned drones smarter and more accurate than ever.
  • Using Google Earth Engine’s open source big data platform, researchers were able to map the first high-resolution map of Mexico’s forests in the course of a day, whereas a traditional computer would have taken over three years to construct.
  • Over the course of the $3 billion Human Genome Project, widely considered to be one of the landmark scientific accomplishments in human history, researchers analyzed and sequenced the roughly 25,000 genes that make up the human genome in 13 years. With today’s modern methods of data collection and analysis, the same process can be completed in hours — all by a device the size of a USB memory stick and for less than $1,000.

You may not need more information.  You need insights and answers.  But companies, government, organizations and agencies are using big data to focus on higher performance and brighter outcomes.


Big data and powerful analytics helps you gain better insights into markets and to evaluate:

  • Reliability – What can we count on as trustworthy information upon which to base decisions?
  • Risk – What are the pros and cons?  How do we manage the risk?
  • Cost – Is it worth it?
  • Price Optimization
  • Customer Retention
  • Collection Analysis – Yes, you can do it all…but where do you find more time?
  • Overnight Repricing – for not just 1, but 5, 100, 500, 1,000 or more stores with multiple scenarios and new sales forecasts needed in less time than you have

Consider the benefit of being able to:

  • Visualize 5 Billion Rows of Data
  • Calculate Risk in Minutes
  • Refine Multiple Models Quicker Than Ever Before
  • Faster Time to Insights
  • Harness and Leverage Big Data
  • Make Data-Driven Decisions Based on Evidence, not Intuition
  • Gain Competitive Advantage

No matter what you believe or where your firm is in terms of utilizing big data, successful companies have the supportive capabilities to fully leverage data and analytics.  They can identify and manage multiple sources of data.  They have the capacity to build advanced analytic models and the critical management muscle to transform the organization.

Also check out:  Big Data Changes the Game in Strategy & Competitive Differentiation blog Part 2



“Big Data:  The Management Revolution”  by Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson, Harvard Business Review, October 2012

“5 Ways Big Data is Changing the World” by Taylor Hatmaker, Tecca, Entrepreneur Magazine, October 2012

“Facebook Has 1 Billion Users, Mark Zuckerberg Announces In A Status Update” Huffington Post,

“SAS:  Big Data  What is it?”

“SAS High-Performance Analytics Tames Your Big Data Challenge”

“Governing Aided by the Power of SAS Analytics”

“Before & After High Performance Analytics – What do you get you combine big data with high performance analytics (HPA)?”

“IBM: Bringing Big Data to the Enterprise”

“Big Data’s Human Component”  by Jim Stikeleather, Harvard Business Review, September 17, 2012

“Get Started with Big Data:  Tie Strategy to Performance”  by Dominic Barton and David Court, Harvard Business Review


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