With all the data that is available to managers today, a new set of skills is required. The ability to use “big data” properly is likely to become a source of competitive advantage for companies in the near future. This means that managers will need to learn how to use data effectively without being overwhelmed by it. There are a number of things that managers can do to accomplish this. However, all of the things that they can do are easier said than done.
One thing that managers can do to avoid being overwhelmed is to have good data analysts working for them. These are people who are skilled in working with “big data” and can find answers in that data. Of course, such people are in short supply, so this is not an easy thing to do.
A second thing that managers need to be able to do is to formulate the proper questions. When managers (or data analysts) go to look at large sets of data, it is imperative that they know exactly what questions they are trying to answer. If managers can become adept at thinking of the right questions and stating them in the right terms, they can be more effective at cutting through extraneous data and finding the data that truly matter.
A third thing that they can do is to make “big data” available to many people at many times. In other words, managers need to avoid having the data be seen only by a few people at scattered times. The more people who are able to look at data, and the more often they are able to do so, the more likely it is that the managers will be able to get help from others to use the data properly.
All of these are things that can help managers avoid being overwhelmed by big data. The problem is that all of these things can be seen as truisms that are much easier to articulate than they are to actually implement. Therefore, it will not be easy for managers to avoid being overwhelmed by "big data." However, it will be necessary for them to do as well as they can so as to gain the maximum possible competitive advantage for their firms.