Big Data vs. Smart Data: Demand More from Your Data


It’s 2018, and we live in a world obsessed with creating and tracking data. From fitness trackers, to loyalty cards at stores, to social media followers – we want to quantify everything.  And now with all of the new technologies on the market, we can.  But just because we can, should we?  Does it help us make new or different decisions?  How do you decide what to collect and what to do with it?

The Big Data Problem

Here’s a mind boggling fact for you from Bernard Marr, a Big Data expert: Data is growing faster than ever before and by the year 2020, about 1.7 megabytes of new information will be created every second for every human being on the planet. 

With this quantity of data constantly being created, we can easily be overwhelmed.  This data is called Big Data, or data so large it’s hard to manage, maintain, or process easily.  There are a number of tools on the market to help us organize it, try to pull out insights out of it, and find value in it, but they are not without their complications.  Often times they start with a blank slate leaving us to:

  • Determine which data is most important
  • Connect and standardize the data sources
  • Find where the data is stored in the system
  • Drill down to the the relationship between different data points
  • Pull out the insights that matter
  • Create actionable steps based on the available insights

These steps could take months or even years to wade through and likely need thousands or possibly even millions of dollars invested before we can start seeing the benefits of collecting all of that Big Data.  Fortunately, there is another option.

Introducing Smart Data

Smart Data focuses on a subset of Big Data.  Smart Data is only the valuable data needed to address specific business challenges.  This means Smart Data varies by industry.  In our case, we focus only on the data relevant to the Supply Chain, specifically distribution related.  That’s right, all of that data we mentioned at the beginning of this article – fitness, shopping, and social media  – is completely unrelated to the task at hand, so why were we talking about it?  Because, it all still roles up to Big Data.

Why is Smart Data Important?

Big Data has some very powerful capabilities, but when trying to solve a specific business challenge, the time, cost, and complications of Big Data can cause projects to fail.  In fact, a Gartner study indicated that only 15% of businesses move their Big Data pilot projects into production.  In many of these cases, focusing solely on Smart Data or using a point solution could have made the difference.  Faster timelines, lower costs, and straight forward software built to address specific challenges could have resulted in a successful project rather than an abandoned one.

Point solutions are often industry specific taking the guesswork out of making sense of the data. This could include providing:

  • What types of data you need to feed into the system to start pulling Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
  • Pre-configured data connections which help limit the time and cost compared to generic solutions
  • Pre-calculated KPIs based on industry expertise to display KPIs that are standard across the industry
  • Flexible charts, graphs, and more to show the data in a way that matters the most to you

Smart Data in the Supply Chain

At Longbow Advantage, we focus solely on the Supply Chain and Supply Chain Analytics.  We leveraged over 15 years of Warehouse and Labor Management experience and hundreds of supply chain experts, projects, and challenges to build Rebus™.  Rebus, a cloud-based software, pulls in supply chain specific Smart Data to provide dozens of real-time industry standard KPIs right out-of-the-box.  Connect data from any of your supply chain execution systems – Warehouse Management System (WMS), Transportation Management System (TMS), Inventory Management Software, Labor Management System (LMS), etc. to start getting the visibility you need.


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