Big Data Challenges and the Keys to Success

Ever since Shoshana Zuboff called Big Data “contraband”, the words stuck. Nevertheless, Big Data as a buzz-word as well as a matter of business life is here to stay. IN order to make it less intrusive and surveillance-like, there have to be ways to handle it and still make sensible business use from it. Accenture have studied “areas where big data is driving results. For instance, companies use big data moderately or extensively to identify new sources of revenue (94 percent), retain and acquire customers (90 percent), and develop new products and services (89 percent).” Some examples or use cases that are particularly impressive are mentioned in the article:

“For example, a telecommunications provider in Japan is helping consumer companies target promising customers with mobile ads in real time. And they’re using anonymized customer attributes and geolocation data from Wi-Fi or access points [to be able to] serve up the right ads. This is a classic case of using big data technologies, mobility and data science to come up with better recommendations.”

Accenture comes up with a very specific three-step guardrail when starting off:

“The first: Because data sources and technologies are in a constant state of flux and movement, you need to spend a little time learning. Understand what your choices are, both in technology as well as business application. And then once you find [a suitable option], go for it. Learn from going after a specific issue with a specific technology, and see how you succeed in that.

The second: Don’t attempt to do all the heavy lifting at once. Start small and grow. Whenever we’ve seen clients start small and grow, they’ve felt very comfortable and, given the nature of this technology and the use cases, they’ve grown very fast. So starting small doesn’t limit your growth, it just ensures that you get comfortable with the new technology, the culture and the real integrative process that it drives.

The third: Focus on building skills. Talent is still one of the biggest challenges, and so building skills of employees through training as well as hands-on development is important. You can always tap outside expertise, and that’s important, too, but skills development has been very important. Very telling is that about 5 percent of the executives we surveyed said their companies have been able to use only internal resources to [complete their big data initiative]. So expect to leverage the external ecosystem to get going.”

Well, apart from the fact, that Accenture is trying to sell their consulting for a living, there is a lot of truth in this (emphasis by the author of this blog). By far the most important, in the light of consumers getting insight and more informed about the value and the issues with big data, is the buy in from those that generate data in the first instance. The decision on arriving at a clearly defined objective, while applying a specific technology is an easily ignored prerequisite.

Defining the metrics to measure success of a big data initiative, prior to embarking on a journey of spending investment money is a wise strategy. A commesurable objective (e.g. “increase of conversion-rate by 30%” or “reduction of marketing-cost per dollar earned by 10%”) allows to define success or failure (or learning, respectively).

Concentrating at first on one technology-stream in order to arrive at the given goal is an imperative, and starting small is a wise investment strategy, when venturing into the unknown. Using the help of an experienced talent that has a vetted interest in the outcome is an excellent idea. And finding the right talent means to be able to realize, that presales is better than postsales talent, especially in the larger strategy-consultancies.


read the article here: Big Data Challenges and the Keys to Success – Information Management Online Article. Graphics: Julien Christ  /