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Big Data: A problem, not a solution

John Massey, Managing Director, Consulting, Leo Tech Services Pte Ltd | March 20, 2015
Embarking on a Big Data journey requires a measured and practical approach. John Massey of Leo Tech Services tells us how to do so.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

Big Data is everywhere -- almost every company has it today. A recent study by research firm International Data Corporation (IDC) forecasts the Big Data technology and services market to reach US$41.5 billion by 2018, growing at an annual rate about six times that of the overall information technology market. Indeed, Big Data has since cemented its position as a key enabler in today's intelligence and data-driven economy, and is set to play an increasingly critical role with time.

Given all the talk about how it can potentially transform the business landscape, there seems to be a common misconception that Big Data is the light at the end of the tunnel. However, what organisations don't realise is that more often than not, such data is not being put to its best use. As such, many still fail to achieve real business success.

In reality, Big Data is not the solution -- it is the problem. The true solution lies in making sensible and valuable use of such data, and much more has to be done for businesses to do so effectively.

Reach a general KPI consensus
Big data projects can involve hefty investments, so they need to be of value to all departments and senior management. Effort must be made to engage all stakeholders in the process -- one of the biggest causes for the downfall of such projects is when they are run within a silo, instead of being shared across all facets of the business.

It is thus key to interview all stakeholders before starting a project, and ensure that they have shared their goals and objectives, as well as what is important to them. Though it may not be feasible to incorporate every suggestion, giving them a voice plays a significant role in getting buy-in and reaching a general consensus for the KPIs.

Choose a lead indicator
A key decision when embarking on the Big Data journey is to determine an indicator to lead with. Key stakeholders need to decide which metric, set, graph, gradient or shape is the best indicator of potential value to the project or organisation. Following which, the organisation should then prioritise creating this single artefact and focus on executing it thereafter.

It is essential not to let stakeholders get excited by the various visualisation tools out there, and end up jumping straight to a box of tricks that allegedly aids in making a 'better informed decision'. All this does is to leave the interpretation of value up to the end user, who may be incapable of taking any action confidently. Instead, try and come up with a specific tool that either abstracts cost or is a leading indicator of adding to the organisation's bottom-line.


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