Keeping a line on the tools, methods and applications of big data technologies for business.

  • The 5 Things Executives Need to Do

  • Leading an organization through Big Data adoption requires some changes

    I was looking again at Phil Simon’s book, Too Big to Ignore and saw his 5 important things that an executive must do before they are able to lead an organization into the brave new world of Big Data. They are concise, insightful, and deserve discussion.

    1. Recognize that the world has changed – and isn’t changing back
    2. Disavow themselves of antiquated mindsets
    3. Realize that Big Data represents big opportunity
    4. Understand that existing tools like relational databases are insufficient to handle the explosion of unstructured data
    5. Embrace new and Big Data-specific tools – and encourage employees to utilize and experiment with them

    These five simple actions summarize the mental preparation that is necessary to make the commitment to start the journey.

    The world has changed for the better. Tools make it practical to think about things like “all my network traffic”, “all tweets about my company or products”, “all the signals from remote sensors” and “all email messages” as valuable data to be mined for actionable insights.

    We have trained ourselves to be blind to data that we could not use and to intuitively think of data as normalized relationships. These habits must be broken to be effective with Big Data.

    What is buried in that 80% of data we have been ignoring is at least as valuable as all the data we have been processing. Maybe doubly so given that not all of your competitors are looking at it.

    Relational databases are extremely powerful, but impose serious restrictions on data before it can be stored and processed. The ETL process is a fundamental flaw in approaching Big Data and it cannot be overcome. New tools and new approaches are necessary.

    You need to become familiar and effective with the new tools. Encourage your staff to invest in themselves and to take some risks in order to build the skills they will need to support your directives.

 

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The revolutionary technologies that are the foundation of Big Data projects require some time for the technical staff to understand and build competency. But you need a lot of luck for the engineering approach to work in this case. The hype and high expectations make it essential that you prove value with your first Big Data project. Otherwise Big Data will likely be sidelined until it's too late to get ahead of your competition.

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