The Intersection Of Fast Data And Big Data

Have you heard the new term ‘Fast Data’ around the water cooler? A recent article on the Oracle blog at Forbes.com, “Fast Data Gets A Big Jump On Big Data,” talks about how and why Fast Data is becoming one of the top requirements for organisations trying to keep up with their information.

Move over big data…looks like fast data is the next new business intelligence issue creeping into your territory. But is it really a new problem?

I thought the blog was interesting because ‘Fast Data’ has actually been part of the ‘Big Data’ discussion for years. But thanks to the blog post, the buzzword may make a splashy new appearance in the business intelligence world sending companies running for solutions.

Truth is, though, this isn’t a new business concern. In fact, Fast Data, earlier termed ‘Data Velocity’, was identified as a dimension for extreme information management in a Gartner research article written back in 2001 by Doug Laney titled, “3-D Data Management: Controlling Data Volume, Velocity, and Variety.” These “3 V’s: Volume, Velocity, and Variety” were identified as the key dimensions for getting a hold on extreme information.

So here we are, over 10 years later, still talking about the power of data velocity and figuring out solutions for this data management challenge.

At this point, are you wondering about fast data, what it is, how it relates to big data, and what any of this means for your renewals and recurring revenue?

Fast data captures the idea of analysing fast moving transactions from which you can make better decisions to maximise profit.

Big data is generally about two things: 1) lots of data and 2) data located in a non relational data base without much structure from which you can gain insights and greater revenue.

Ever been to Shibuya, Tokyo?  What about Times Square or the Magic Roundabout in England? These places all have one thing in common: fast traffic, and lots of it.

Shibuya boasts 2.5 million people a day, where Times Square has 1.6 million people and 300,000 vehicles passing through each day. Each pedestrian, driver, passenger has a value, an opinion, and insight. If your business was located at one of these busy intersections, think of how many of these potential customers whizzing by you each day could mean revenue and profit? But how do you decide which ones to target?

What if you could slow down all the traffic and organise these people into groups? Ask them questions? Sort them by their answers? Make real-time business decisions based on your findings? Offer them just the right package of product and services based on their answers, and their predispositions to buy from you?

You’d probably make more money.

You want to locate your renewals business at the intersection of big data and fast data, hopefully delivered via the cloud. It really doesn’t matter about the underlying technologies you use as much as it matters that you can extract the right information, at the right time, to make decisions and maximise revenue and profit potential.

Today, many renewals sales teams are sitting on a back alley, not in the central flow of traffic. And that means less business.

Gartner has called the intersection of these two trends “Extreme Information Management”, and the business challenge at this intersection is how to efficiently manage big data (volume) and fast data (velocity). Further, Gartner predicts that by 2015, organisations that build a modern information management system will outperform their peers financially by 20 percent.

I don’t know if this is true. I do know that based on ServiceSource’s twelve years working exclusively on recurring revenue maximisation, the average tech-enabled business can gain approximately $750 million in incremental revenue over 5 years for every $1 billion in annual total revenue…if they put in place the right process and tools to maximize their recurring revenue sales.

So if you’re sitting in a back alley, how do you uproot your renewals business and relocate it to the right intersection without ending up stuck in a traffic jam?

Recurring revenue management is fundamentally about timeliness of information and involves large volumes of data.

The fast data component of renewals is about continually updating your automated renewal system with new data about customers, the products they’ve purchased, the terms and expiration of contracts, and their usage and satisfaction levels.

At ServiceSource we generally suck this information in from many different legacy systems and then cleanse and enrich the data to make it renewal ready. From this foundation, your renewals system can and should be able to derive the total opportunity, what is highest priority, who is most likely to renew, and where you can cross sell and upsell.

The big data component is about all the asset and customer data that makes the above possible.

In the case of one of our early customers for Renew OnDemand, we loaded in 7 years of customer information amounting to 140 million records. We use a non-relational data storage approach that leverages in-memory optimisation and can scale rapidly and flexibly. This dynamic cube infrastructure supports real time multi-dimensional data analysis and renders the information sales people and managers need to prioritise opportunities and maximise revenue. It’s the foundation that makes it possible to derive the opportunity information.

Too many renewal sales teams are stuck in a traffic jam while sitting on a bicycle with a basket in front, inching along as they become frustrated with the amount of data they can handle, the pace of information flow, and their inability to quickly spot the best opportunities. This is because they are running the business using antiquated tools or highly manual processes. The revenue loss is significant, and it increases your cost of sale to boot.

Whether your automated renewal solution is delivered from the cloud like Renew OnDemand, or from your own systems, ensuring your business is sitting at the right location has a direct impact on the top and bottom line.

So don’t worry about the buzz words, just focus on getting your team out of the data traffic jam and positioning your renewals business at the right technology intersection.

Leave a Reply