Process improvements in the second machine age (a qualitative study on the impact of big data analytics on continual improvements)
Sammanfattning: Big data analytics (BDA) is fundamentally reshaping how businesses approach and work with tasks and operations. Following rapid technological developments, and the increased ability for data processing, BDA has become increasingly ubiquitous within businesses across a plethora of industries. At the same time, many firms are still failing to realize BDA's full potential, pertaining to its ability to bolster process improvements. As such, the purpose of this paper is to explore whether BDA has a significant impact on continual process improvements, and what the nature of this impact entails. To this end, a qualitative case study has been performed, featuring a retail company possessing mature and developed BDA functions. A total of five interviews were conducted with senior staff from different business units, to explore their experiences with BDA. The findings show that BDA does have a substantially positive effect on continual improvements, in two overarching categories. Firstly, it impacts and transforms the culture within the unit, making it more data driven. Therefore, improvement initiatives are realized at a much higher rate, and the quality of said initiatives are also enhanced. Secondly, the usage of BDA enables stronger vicarious learning and knowledge sharing across business units, thereby increasing the total pool of knowledge within the organization, which facilitates stronger improvements across the board. The findings of this thesis add insights to the existing body of research relating to BDA and continual improvements, while also providing practitioners with valuable information, which can enable for a stronger, and more fruitful, cultivation of BDA.
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