Winning arguments to convince your boss about Hadoop


hadoop-logoGetting universal buy in for Hadoop needn’t be an uphill struggle. In many cases, it only takes one pilot project to realize the benefits of low cost storage combined with powerful analytics.

The Hadoop topic provoked passionate conversatoin at a recent roundtable discussion attended by over 25 people from a range of industries including Retail, Telco, Gaming, Travel, Banking and Government. On hand to provide expert opinion were Cloudera (a Hadoop reseller) and experts from the SAS Data Management practice. This Customer Intelligence breakfast roundtable was held in London on November 18. We started by asking two key questions:

1. What is Hadoop and why should you care?

At the meeting it became apparent that while many people have heard of Hadoop, most are not totally sure what it is. In a nutshell:

  • Hadoop offers massive data storage and super-fast processing at just 5% of the cost of traditional less flexible databases
  • Hadoop handles structured and unstructured data (including audio, visual and free text).

2. How can you demonstrate value of Hadoop and get your executives to buy-in before you’ve made the investment?

Four winning arguments emerged, combining Hadoop with advanced analytics allows you to:

  • Know the unknown: spot unexpected trends and correlations in vast amounts of data and use them to develop competitive advantage
  • Predict and forecast: build scenarios to test the potential impact of decisions and actions, and know what steps are needed to reach financial and strategic goals
  • Adapt faster: evolve as the impact of decisions or unexpected changes take effect, make every decision based on the most up-to-date information
  • Demonstrate success: quickly and easily measure the outcomes of decisions.

This means companies can afford to keep and use more of their data than ever before!

But that’s just the first step in getting to know your customers. Having lots of data in itself cannot answer questions or add to the bottom line. For that you need big data analytics to turn the information into insight – and insight into action. SAS on Hadoop therefore is the perfect partnership to take all your customer information and transform your business.

GoldnuggetsAs our breakfast attendees knew well, the challenge is: where do you start your journey?

We heard from a large travel company who suggested how important it is to understand user maturity, business and user needs and experience. Their Nirvana would be having the ability to take information from all data points – including social media – to create one view of the customer. The benefit? Being able to predict the next big business issue so they can prepare their best customer offer and gain competitive advantage.

The fact is, most companies are already sitting on a wealth of data, packed with numerous insights they don’t even suspect are there. By taking a sample of that data and exploring it, they can unearth all kinds of business insight that can quickly increase cost-efficiency, drive revenue or reduce churn.

In our large travel company situation, their first use case helped them to achieve a triple-digit percentage uplift in response based on SAS behavioural models and their existing customer data in Hadoop.  In fact, in a recent data governance survey we found that only around one in four companies were treating their data as a strategic asset.

What new business skills are needed to work with Hadoop and SAS and how do you put together a strong business case?

Hugo D'Ulisse, Director of SAS UK & Ireland's Data Management practice suggested that, “Setting up a Big Data lab – where users can experiment and benchmark - can help create a strong business case. This is what is happening at companies like Shop Direct, where they encourage innovation through experimentation.”

D’Ulise added “SAS can help by drastically reducing the cost and time it takes to conduct data analyses, SAS on Hadoop can radically change the way you make business decisions. There’s no need to prepare data sets and results are always based on your most up-to-date data. So you can ask more questions, experiment with ideas and theories, and get robust answers.”

In our data governance survey, we also found that only around 25 percent of companies were investigating the use of Hadoop for analytics, so this is a great opportunity to get ahead of your competitors. Or if you wanted to explore how you could start experimenting and innovating with SAS on Hadoop, send me a message or follow me on Twitter @CindyEtsell.

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About Author

Cindy Etsell

Principal Marketing Specialist

Cindy joined SAS UK in 2010 as a Retail Consultant. Her focus is to help build and drive SAS UK’s retail business, with responsibilities that include increasing the awareness of SAS to potential retail customers, liaising with existing customers to ensure satisfaction and speaking on behalf of the company at key industry events. Her knowledge and skills enable her to quickly address customer challenges within a specified budget and timeframe, ensuring positive outcome for SAS and its retail customers. Cindy brings a vast amount of experience to SAS. She started her career as a sales associate with Canadian retailer T. Eaton Company where she worked her way up to section head learning the trade and complexities involved in running a successful retail business. Since then, she has held roles in a number of major organisations, including Hewlett-Packard, SAP UK, and most recently Cisco which she joined in 2006 as industry business development manager for retail.

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