The Steps to a Successful Big Data Initiative

Nearly 90% of all of our clients ask about Big Data and what we can do to help.  The first thing we tell them is that Big Data, like so many popular Business Initiatives, is not a technology driven process.  In truth, most Enterprises that start from a technology first perspective find they have created something that costs lots of money, but doesn’t seem to deliver any benefits.

So rather than risk another client calling us who is already a bit disillusioned we’d like to offer a list of steps that are guaranteed to produce a better outcome.

  1. Start with a data assessment.
    Most companies have amassed lots of it.  In fact, most of it probably doesn’t even constitute real Big Data, but that’s actually immaterial to the overall process.

    • Create an inventory of existing data stores
    • Qualify each data set: size, consistency, redundancy, quality, rate of change, real time window
    • Identify ad hoc data sets:  Web Logs, Error logs,  Google Analytics
    • List external data sources that are germane to your core business: Mailing Lists, Census Data, Population Data, Geo Data
  2. Assemble a Team of Domain Experts.
    This is a business problem, and the people who understand what information can do, come from that side of the Enterprise.

    • Select business focused people who understand your company’s goals, financial performance, people, marketing and sales
    • Have the team review the data inventory list and update the Qualifications
    • Have the team create a list of “If we only had” business improvements
    • List the gaps in the current data (more accurate customer list, more details on buying habits)
  3. Create a “Big” Data Practice
    Data is a Business asset that requires full time attention

    • Pay attention to Governance
    • Treat it like any valuable business asset (maintenance, security)
  4. Bring in Technology Expertise
    Selecting the proper tools requires a very broad knowledge of what’s available and how to use it most effectively.
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