Back in 2012, the discussion around Big Data centered on data volume, variety, and velocity. IT organizations were tasked with capturing and storing this information. All the while, business leaders were trying to make sense of the importance of this data. Three years later, we are still talking about Big Data – but in a very different way.

Now that interest in Big Data has peaked, companies are finding that there is indeed value underlying it all. And with that value comes opportunity. The opportunity for more informed, smarter decisions with analytics. The opportunity to optimize and break down traditional barriers for growth through the Internet of Things (IoT). The opportunity to become bigger, better, and stronger by embracing innovation.

These possibilities are forever altering the business landscape. As a result, companies are developing new ways to take advantage of this wave of change. This is where the real power of Big Data is revealed.

Three trends prove the big value behind Big Data

When most people describe Big Data, phrases such as “drowning in data,” “powerful as a tsunami,” “deluge of information,” “ocean of data,” among others are commonly used. Such language makes people believe that Big Data is scary and should be feared. However, as these three trends prove, it is a new reality that should be embraced and respected for the insights and value it brings.

1. Analytics

A few years ago, the Harvard Business Review named the data scientist as “the sexiest job in the 21st century.” Why? Although the role itself may not be interesting, it unleashes the transformational impact of analytics.

Take Pirelli, for example. Ever since the company rolled out its first tire 140 years ago, it had one ambition that continues to this day: to surpass and lead the competition. In this new digital era, this requires connecting everyone in the business network – from the store to the enterprise and its suppliers.

With this approach, Pirelli can now identify trends in certain regions and respond in kind with targeted offerings and promotions. This is just one of many benefits realized from Big Data analytics. The latest change that is helping the company fend off competitors and maintain market share? A new service-based revenue stream: Accident prevention by analyzing data generated from sensors embedded in each tire.

2. The Internet of Things

By connecting people, process, things, and everything else imaginable, the IoT is delivering data-driven intelligence at an exponential pace. For many companies, it is mitigating the risk of production disruption, automating processes and appliances, and optimizing resources.

Consider the case of Alliander. The utility understood that it needed to employ the latest technology to keep its native land, the Netherlands, green and sustainable. Thanks to the IoT and supporting sensors, it is capturing and analyzing a massive volume of real-time data to better maintain assets, optimize the grid, deliver consistent service, and lower its customers' energy bills.

3. Innovation

When Big Data analytics and the IoT are combined, companies can create a culture of innovation that not only uncovers new revenue streams but also creates a better life for us all.

Just look at your city or town to imagine the possibilities. With the use of sensors in street lights, data from police reports and utility maintenance records, and citizen sentiment on social media, public officials can determine how to raise the quality of life for its constituents. Officials can discover that the crime rate is highest in areas with street lights that are routinely dark. As a result, they can reduce law-enforcement overtime by finding that a new discharge lamp will help resolve the situation.

However, the notion of innovation takes it a step further. How can public utilities help ensure these lamps never go out again? Can they predict when they will burn out? Better yet, it is possible to create a lamp that will last longer and burn brighter? Those are the kind of questions innovators seek to answer.

Design thinking: Bringing the value of Big Data to life

Design thinking provides a customer-centered framework for such innovative thinking. By integrating market demand, available technology, and business requirements, companies can deliver products, services, and experiences that add value to their customers as well as the enterprise at large.

With the assistance of Big Data, business leaders can learn what they have to do to better serve their customers and what they should do to succeed. Empowered with this information, senior leadership can envision new products, markets, and ways doing business. However, this is easier said than done.

SAP Service and Support, business leaders can take advantage of years of expertise with over 26 industries to distill information, ideas, and experiences to create a capability framework, strategy summary, target architecture, and transformative map.

Find out how you can unlock the full potential of Big Data to re-imagine your business. Check out the SlideShare presentation,courtesy of SAP Service and Support.