Managing Big Data Starts Here!
Seems everyone is jumping on the Big Data bandwagon these days. There are new announcements almost daily, and by now nearly every vendor or service provider who does something with data is now a ‘Big Data’ company. It’s certainly a great place to be as without a doubt, every potential customer on the planet is sitting down to evaluate what their Big Data strategies need to be for the next 3-5 years.
Let’s see, there are Big Data analytics apps that now all the BI vendors offer. There is Oracle’s new appliance that solves all your Big Data problems by providing high-speed pipes into their database. HP is doing the same. EMC is marrying BI with Storage. Hadoop is becoming the ‘in’ thing to say you are adopting to build applications. And SI’s are developing new practices to lead you through the transformation. Is this all real? In point of fact, they most certainly are not because right now…
Everyone is ignoring the elephant in the room… Where do you get started?
No one is telling enterprise leaders the reality of Big Data because it’s not good news. That reality is that most likely, you are nowhere near ready to implement these solutions because every one of them requires an ability to actually discover, analyze and act on petabytes of data living somewhere in the enterprise. And right now, less than 2% of the companies we’ve identified actually have anything that does this work.
Job #1 in Big Data is actually understanding what you’ve got.
We like to run a little Q&A session with customers and prospects to take them through the four V’s – volume, variety, velocity and value – of Big Data by asking some pretty simple questions that show where they are really at:
- Do you know how much data you have, where it’s located and how it relates?
- Can you keep track of changes that are material and notify those impacted?
- How long does it take you to respond to a request for specific information sources and how confident are you that you provided it all?
- If your company wanted to enforce policies that govern data access, use and retention, could you?
- Do you proactively provide information to the business that is based on knowledge collected from matching patterns in your data?
For most, the answers uncover some uncomfortable realities about their level of readiness to support Big Data Intelligence projects. In fact, a good argument can be made that starting those projects before your house is in order will most likely do more damage than good, creating false expectations, running up costs or worse of all, making strategic business decisions that are based on ‘guesses’.
The right place for all Big Data projects to start is in a ‘Data IQ’ test. Not one answered by people but by systems that can dynamically determine what’s real across a large enterprise data infrastructure. Things like:
- We have 450TB of information that hasn’t been touched in three years.
- The data on product line testing is distributed in one part of the company (or groups of users) is related to three others.
- The value of one source of data is 5x all others.
These are the signs of a ‘data intelligent’ company, one prepared to turn Big Data from a buzzword and skunk works project into a foundation to enable an advantage in how your business works.
If you start with the end in mind, it’s easy to know where to begin. Until you know your data, really know it, your Big Data projects and applications are doomed to fail.