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The following article is a guest post by Fabien Durand

Unless you have shut yourself away for the past 2 years, you probably heard about what everybody else in the tech/business industry is talking about: "the biggest threat that will redefine markets and crush businesses". You see it coming? I am of course talking about all the hype surrounding Big Data and Predictive Analytics! You might think of it as some new business gibberish set up to frighten the traditional business owner, or as a new way to force companies into purchasing an expensive (and not needed?) analytical solution. Let’s step back a moment and see what this really means for you and your company.

The big question at the moment is undoubtedly: "Does the emergence of data-driven businesses a threat you should worry about?”. You probably have done very well without putting much thoughts into it so far. Maybe you even operate in an industry where you are not concerned about it. You probably do not see the necessity of shifting the strategy of what made you successful to something of which you do not know the outcome of.

A shared belief is that only big established companies like Amazon, Netflix or Facebook can gain from using data, and that companies not operating in the IT industry are still safe and sound with their proven business models. Accenture, the famous IT consulting company, recently published a report named "Strategy in the age of devastating innovation: The Big Bang Disruption". I recommend you have a look at it because it accurately explains why you should care more than everything about the place you give to data. Data and more precisely data-driven businesses is the next big step not only in the IT industry but in every industry. The power to leverage information from diverse sources and in large volumes will no longer be a competitive advantage but will become the basic standard required for an organization to perform. Why? Because the access to reliable and diversified data is nowadays easier than ever, take as an example the always growing sector of the "Internet of things", it is predicted to become one of the major source of data in the next years. To simplify, data will increasingly give power to the ones who know how to take advantage of it and will participate to the extinction of those who come too late in the arena.

As you might imagine having lots of data is not the goal itself. It will not empower you to have all this information if it does not add value to your business. This is where predictive analytics enters the game, because what you really need is to transform this information into insights. In other words, you want information that allows you to understand patterns and behaviours, see how things are connected together. The goal here is to predict what will happen to your business as precisely as possible. How you will be affected by your customer behaviour, how your product/service is used and how to improve it. By discovering patterns and connections you were not aware of you drastically decrease the risks of the decisions you take, you invest your money more efficiently in what really matters, leading to an overall better return on investment, better use of your time and quicker/safer decisions.

What you need to remember is to beware what will completely change the way you do business. When a disruptive trend like this enter the game it is only a matter of time before it dictates its law. The question you should be asking yourself is "Where do I want my company to be in the next 5 years?”. There is a huge opportunity now to make your business data-driven by the use of predictive analytics. As a last advice I strongly recommend you not to miss the train, because remember, it will not wait for you!

Fabien is a student at EBS University for Business and Law in Germany and at KEDGE Business School in France. He loves to bring the IT and Business world together. At the moment, everything from Data Science to Digital Innovation brings him much joy! You can find him on LinkedIn and Twitter.