As consequence of doing business in 2018, more data is being generated than ever before. This can cause significant upheaval in network infrastructure and device management, as well as requiring a substantial investment of both time and money.
Larger organisations that already put it to good use report heightened productivity, better optimisation, and a considerable return on investment. The business case for smaller companies is becoming more compelling, but despite the positive advocation of a big data strategy, a considerable percentage have yet to commit fully. This often comes down to not having a workable management strategy in place, so how can you change this process?
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Map out your big data requirements
Immersing your business into the world of big data can be a daunting task, especially if you’re opening yourself up to new data streams for the first time. To stop yourself feeling like a fish out of water, your first step should be to map out the requirements you expect from the data you’re collecting. You may require the information to make decisions about business expansion, or monitor your performance in a given territory. But, one thing’s for sure, you’ll need to be 100% happy with each decision. If you plan to use data to support these decisions, including this in your data management strategy will ensure you won’t miss out on any vital information.
In setting out each requirement, particularly those that demand a significant investment from your business, you’ll want to receive a positive return. However, something I’ve learned is that data analysis can actually tell you what you already know, and on some occasions the results aren’t always pretty, but it does make you face the brutal facts.
Some people tell you to go with your gut feeling, but from experience, when there is data that can backup a decision, it’s always best to do thing scientifically. And that’s about going out and aggregating structured and unstructured data from all possible relevant sources and placing in a data lake (a storage repository) that we can analyse. This yields not only the results we require, but also hidden patterns and new information that can help us in the future. On occasion, the data validates what our gut and experience told us, but every time having the right data on hand to back up the decisions and visualise the next steps becomes a vital part of the process.
Most companies will start with small-scale big data projects, with low initial outlays and a quick ROI, and typically you’d measure success as increased sales, profit or savings. But ultimately, the use of big data in any business is a necessary game changer, and l would advise you quickly begin the strategic planning of data collection and increasing network infrastructure to help you to get ahead of the big data implementation curve.
Having the right big data team in place
Mapping out your data requirements is the first steps towards taming the growing beast that is big data. However, if you fail to recognise the expertise and knowledge needed to execute your data strategy, you’ll face a significant stumbling block in keeping a lid on your storage silo. So to prevent your data from getting out of control, hiring a team of experts should be high on your list of priorities.
Unfortunately, there’s no manual to help you decipher who should be part of your team, and currently in the big data jobs market there are numerous different roles which, although they have a similar job title, will require professionals to have a specific skill set or expertise.
But, when you begin the process of adding new members to your team, or if you’re starting from scratch, the final decision should come down to how you wish to use the data. Do you want to create well-visualised reports or increase the speed of decision making? Whichever route you decide to take, ensure you include it in your data strategy, as this can assist you in making your final recruitment decision.
The first step I recommend is to guarantee the members of your team have the appropriate level of skill associated with data production, extraction, analysis, and finally visualisation. Following this practice will ensure that what you’ve set out in your data requirements will be fulfilled, and fall in line with your data management strategy.
Naturally, one of the most important things to look for when searching for right professionals is relevant experience, and during this process you’ll begin to realise that big data doesn’t operate under a one-size-fits-all approach.
However, when you finally come to a decision on the roles you wish to fill, you can still face significant problems if your business has chosen to implement an unorthodox method of extraction and analysis, it can be tricky to find professionals with the right experience. If you decide to use a Hadoop system, administrators with the proper certifications and experience are a rare breed, so when choosing to invest in analytical software, I advise you take that into consideration, or you could face quite an ominous task to find the right individual.
In summary, leveraging big data will give any business a competitive advantage, whatever size they are — just be sure you have your big data strategy in place, and your people strategy is realistic and reflects the marketplace.