Many businesses are already leveraging the cloud to extract quantifiable value from big data. And, experts predict that it won’t be long before the majority of professional service organisations move all (or most) of their data to cloud servers. But what exactly is big data, and how can it help your firm get ahead of the competition?
What is big data?
Big data is the information an organisation has access to which could be used for discovery and analysis. This includes:
- Structured data. Information that is easy to organise (e.g. data that can be held in a straightforward, searchable database).
- Unstructured data. Information assets that aren’t easy to interpret or store in a traditional database. For example text-heavy documents, social media posts, etc. Currently, unstructured data takes up over 80% of all installed storage capacity and is continuing to grow.
- Multi-structured data. Data stemming from interactions between people and machines. This can take a variety of formats.
Of course, for many legal, accountancy, and recruitment firms, too much data can seem like a headache. It comes too many forms, it has to be managed (usually in many different systems), and it must be stored and handled securely.
But, the ability to harness big data leads to improved performance at all levels. So, firms that are not yet using software to provide them with the most up to date and precise data, from multiple sources risk falling behind.
Big data and the Internet of Things (IoT)
The IoT is a world where devices – connected to the web – talk to us, to other applications, and to each other. And it won’t be long before these devices are used in most, if not all businesses. The benefits of such increased connectivity include cost savings, new revenue streams, enhanced productivity, and better customer service.
The IoT is unleashing the potential of big data, as all aspects of our lives become more and more data-driven. But it’s not the volume of data that’s important. It’s what we do with it that matters. In fact, how a firm controls its data is directly related to its success; with the most prosperous organisations those that turn data insights into actionable improvements and innovations for clients.
The benefits of harnessing big data via the cloud
The ability to exploit big data leads to improved performance at all levels of your firm. Here are just some of the ways it can help you.
Improve decision making
You can use cloud software to access real-time, tailored, and accurate information, from multiple data sources, and present this via easy to understand visual dashboards. As a result, your firm will be able to uncover trends and insights and capitalise on these to drive business growth. What’s more, with access from anywhere – including via mobile devices – your people can retrieve such insights, as and when they need them.
When building reputations, professional firms (and people) often seek to establish themselves as thought-leaders. By capitalising of the power of big data, this becomes much easier; with all the information needed to create standout blogs, whitepapers, presentations, webinars, etc.
Departmental silos are still a huge problem for many professional service firms. And, this lack of communication is often at the expense of the client who has to wait longer than necessary for updates. By deploying big data via the cloud, you can make sure everyone has access to the most up-to-date information and improve communications and visibility between different departments.
By combining insights from a range of various sources, big data provides a complete view. And this can help to reduce the risk of uninformed decisions; and the impact of these on your reputation, and your bottom line.
Big data can help firms save valuable time. Both in dealings with a client and in establishing whether to take on new business. For example, law firms can use big data to determine the amount of time that is likely to be spent on a matter, and its probable outcome, by using big data analytics to assess similar cases. Algorithms can also be used to help find the right information quickly and easily, so what would have taken weeks of painstaking work, can now be done in a matter of minutes.
Big data and security
The more data is moved to the cloud, the more people worry about cybercrime. For professional firms that deal with a lot of sensitive data, this is understandably a massive concern. But, using the cloud to store and manage big data shouldn’t put your firm at any more risk. Indeed, with robust cloud encryption now available, cloud storage is safer than many onsite solutions.
But that doesn’t mean that you can forget about security. Instead, make sure your cloud software/storage provider understands the threats, and what’s needed to minimise your exposure. And get them to commit to the provision of an acceptable level of security as part of your SLA.
Ay Key, we make the safekeeping of your data a top priority and our cloud server services consistently achieve the highest level of data security and reliability. Find out more about keeping your big data safe in the cloud.
Big data analytics is having a huge impact on professional services firms. So, if you want to remain competitive in today’s rapidly evolving landscape, speak to a member of our team on 01942 263 434 or email firstname.lastname@example.org today.