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Channel Matters Blog > February 2013 > Big Data and channels

Big Data and channels

by Lynn Shively
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The new buzz word in managing information for vendors and channels is "Big Data." It is the sum total collection of all the data that a company and their partners have piling up in their massive disk farms. It can include everything from Word and PDF files, to email messages, video, audio, photos, business transactions, customer information, and huge enterprise-class database systems. Additional files are constantly being created and added to the data collection in the course of running a business.
What role should the channel play in the big data to information process?

It's called big data because it is! It goes way beyond gigabytes and terabytes. If you are not in the US Congress, you may not have heard of numbers like these below, but this is where data numbers are heading.
  • What comes after the Terabytes? 1024 Terabytes = 1 Petabyte
  • What comes after the Petabytes? 1024 Petabytes = 1 Exabyte
  • What comes after the Exabyte? 1024 Exabyte = 1 zettabyte
  • What comes after the zettabyte? 1024 zettabyte = 1 Yottabyte
I don't know what comes next, but it probably won't be long before we get there.

We all know that data and information are two very different things and access to both is critical. It is estimated that at present, only a half of one percent of the world's available data is being mined to obtain value from that data. To remain successful, companies will not only have to start using their own data better, but they will increasingly need to combine and integrate multiple data sources in their business environment, as well as data from third parties. To do it effectively, the process, infrastructure, incentives, and rewards have to be in place to enable this. There are new companies whose purpose is to help other companies manage this huge task, and ultimately provide them with a competitive advantage.

Each medium to large size company has some kind of big-data repository in this digital age. When used properly, the ecosystem that feeds this extensive volume of data and the information it provides should extend out to vendors, distributors, and channel partners. Channel partners need to be both a contributor and a beneficiary of the data-to-information process.

When big data is used properly, it has the promise of being able to become information that allows companies and channel partners to get a view of their potential and actual customers like never before. If appropriate data can be mined and analyzed properly, it can give everyone in the vendor's go-to-market chain a way to get a view of what customers want, often even before the customers do.

Getting the full potential of big data has several issues that need to be addressed, but my suggestion is to begin thinking about your complete data ecosystem and how it might be aggregated and mined for the benefit of vendors and channels. Have the conversation with your key partners and get the investigation started. Start small and get the process working on one or two key areas that will bring you quick and valuable returns. Don't start with too big a project. The vision can be intoxicating, but too large an implementation can be a distraction that might disrupt your normal business.

There will be issues that need to be addressed like privacy, intellectual property, security, usage, responsibilities, and funds and who does the work. Like any project, put together a project plan with initiators, sustaining sponsors and well defined milestones and division of labor so you can track your progress.

Good luck with your efforts!

Last modified on 6/30/2013 10:11:24 PM
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