An Executive’s Guide to Big Data


Data is the new petrol. Are you ready to discover your potential?

Yiğit Kulabaş, PhD* 


August 11(2016) is a special day for me. It is my 25th year anniversary in business world. In this quarter of a century strategy and technology have become as close as ever. Thereby, new business models were created, new consumption patterns and alternative sales channels that we couldn’t have imagined have emerged, customer experience was designed from scratch and digital and physical world started to integrate.

Whilst we welcomed too many new terms to our lives, some has never changed. Big Data is a good example. The first company I worked for was NCR. In those days we used call Big Data as Data Warehouse and offered it to companies in finance and retail sector. When I was working at Oracle and Microsoft the popular terms were “data mining”, “OLAP”, “business intelligence”. And in those years I worked at Ericsson and Turkcell it become “big data”.

Let’s have a look at big data world.

1) #TheBigPicture: Data is the new petrol… There are various kinds of data that can be gathered and transformed. Yet, most of the companies are not aware of this potential of data. For example, DHL stores 150 different data for each parcel they deliver. And then they design the future by combining and interpreting these data. What important is to see the big picture and act.

2) #BigDreams: What can you do when you use the data you have? You can grow your business, enter new markets, reach to new customers, manage your costs, risks, and investments. For whatever reason you use it for, you will have a glimpse at the future with it. Big data will bring hidden truths, colourful alternatives and big potentials with itself.

3) #SuccessStories: Let’s have a quick look at some examples – Think about Amazon’s recommendation engine. “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought…” Or Spotify’s personalized “Your Daily Mix” lists, and Boeing’s Dreamliner tracking tool that uses flight details. What about how retail market players using relevant data to create personalized offerings and how triggers customers for making bookings by alerting them. “5 people are looking at this moment.” Don’t forget about Uber’s demand forecast map that warns you by saying “you should be there in 30 mins” or airlines that use specific data to decide on adding new direct flights for particular destinations. If you have the right data, the right team to interpret it and big dreams, success is unavoidable.

4) #DataLiteracy: It is always technology that collects, cleans and transforms the data. But what more important is to read the data, interpret it and make assumptions based on that. Every company needs data literate employees.

5) #5W1H: 5W1H is the most used formula for information gathering and problem solving in journalism. If you don’t have the answers for Who- What- Where –When- Why- How questions, then you don’t have any news. 5W1H is also important for big data. In order to understand and interpret the data, it is essential to find answers for these questions.

6) #Harmony: You asked all the 5W1H questions and identified your data resources. Yet, there is a surprise waiting for you. You won’t be able to answer each question. Big data is an OTT term. You have to collaborate with operators, big players of the game such as Google and Apple, your ecosystem and sometimes even with your competitors. It is a must to create a harmony from the data you collect from different sources.

7) #Immediately!: Real-time is one of the key words of this era. We all try to catch the moment. Likewise, big data. Data gets old quite fast, just like bread. We have to collect, interpret and use the data in real-time.

8) #3V: Popular terms related to big data – Volume, Variety, Velocity. Even though we have already mentioned these three terms above, it is important to remind the business jargon.

9) #SituationSpecific: Big Data also holds a big potential for marketing world. All marketers dream of make the right offer, to right person, at the right time, at the right place. Big Data enables real-time marketing and triggers situation specific marketing.

10) #NewHorizons: The future lies in Big Data. New business models, disruptive innovation, real-time marketing, industry 4.0 and much more will be supported by Big Data. Data is as valuable as petrol. You just need to gather it, interpret it and use it right.


*Yiğit Kulabaş is a businessman, academician and author. He is the CEO and founding partner of RE/Design Business. This article of him is translated from Capital. It was published in October 2016.

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