Organizations are gathering more information than ever in an effort to head off consumer and competitive trends while maximizing potential benefits. In many cases, having the most relevant data on hand has become an asset to operations and has contributed to fostering educated decisions. Without any metrics to go off of, it can be difficult for decision-makers to pick the best path for growth, and such an approach may lead to missed opportunities. However, the amount of generated data is expanding rapidly, making it difficult to decipher without analytics and reporting software. Businesses can get a clearer idea of their operations by using reporting tools to group elements together into a comprehensive image.

Getting the most out of available data
Big data has passed its hype phase to become a necessary element in company functions, for better or worse. Although the trend is supposed to eliminate existing silos, it creates other issues if users don’t have the tools on hand to handle the mass amount of information. According to Forrester Research, most organizations are only analyzing 12 percent of their available data, which could cause them to miss out on competitive advantages, InformationWeek reported. However, if the business doesn’t have the appropriate systems in place to manage this data, they will be forced to examine only what’s valuable and bypass a large majority of available statistics.

While some managers may decide to wait until they have more funding to support these needs, they may still be unprepared for the future if they stall. The digital space is expected to hit 40 zettabytes in 2020, in comparison to only 3.2 zettabytes currently. This significant jump will take systems by surprise if they have not incorporated the necessary tools to handle the spike. In turn, software could become overwhelmed and may lead to other missed opportunities.

"A lack of analytics tools and ‘repressive’ data silos are two reasons companies ignore a vast majority of their own data, says Forrester, as well as the simple fact that often it’s hard to know which information is valuable and which is best left ignored," InformationWeek stated.

Breaking down big data
Many organizations are hesitant to adopt big data due to the amount of work and complexity the trend entails. But the potential benefits are simply too great to ignore. According to an IDG Enterprise survey, half of respondents predicted that they will be developing data initiatives in the near future, with a third stating that this effort will happen within the next two years, CFO reported. However, 39 percent of participants stated that they had no plans for instituting a big data strategy. This is significant as it shows that a substantial portion of potential users are still hesitant to integrate big data into their operations.

Although big data projects can be a considerable undertaking for many organizations, by creating a detailed plan management can better facilitate support for the initiative. CFO contributor Keith Button noted that decision-makers will need to evaluate what personnel and infrastructure will be required, goals that big data will help achieve and how to present the available information in an actionable way. Businesses can use a report designer to easily communicate a message and ensure that any viewer can readily understand the data.

"We want to maintain a database with all of the raw data so that we can do historical analysis," Merchant Cash and Capital CFO Jeffrey Beckwith told CFO. "Instead of using some third party that’s providing us answers to certain questions using big data, we want to be able to take that data ourselves, store it, answer our own questions, and then if we need to somehow massage that data in a different manner, we then have the ability to do that."