Getting Real About Big Data: The Plan

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The Business Impact of Big Data

Many business executives want more information than ever, even though they're already drowning in it.

This week, I'm looking at what it takes to get real about Big Data. Yesterday, I talked about the roles and people you need to succeed. Today, it's all about The Plan.


Once you've found the people, it may be tempting to jump to the build stage. Don't. Instead, take some time to create a Big Data Plan - and specifically a Big Data Business Plan.


Now here's the thing: I know IT's always being told to create a business plan, and often you don't because it's frequently the case that the business plan is a basic requirement to achieve an end.


For instance, I recently talked with a CIO about an integration problem, and I asked about the business case. He said there really wasn't a need for a business case, per se, because it had to be done so their systems would work. It wasn't even an option.


In other situations, you may do a business case to justify the cost of a project - either to ensure it's worth pursuing or because your boss is making you.


But in Big Data, the business case and requirement aren't just about the cost of a project or something you have to do. It's actually critical to getting anything done with Big Data, says Rick Sherman, a data integration consultant and author of the blog, The Data Doghouse.

Instead of blindly adopting and deploying something, big data analytics proponents first need to determine the business purposes that would be served by the technology in order to establish a business case -- and then choose and implement the right analytics tools for the job at hand. Without a solid understanding of business requirements, the danger is that project teams will end up creating a big data disk farm that really isn't worth anything to the organization, earning them an unwanted spot in the data doghouse.'

It's like a fossil dig: You're not exactly sure what you're looking for, and the fossil field could run for miles, so you at least need some parameters to start.


TechTarget's Lyndsay Wise made a similar point in a recent piece, "Five first steps to creating an effective big data analytics program." In it, Wise states:

But that doesn't mean all of a company's data sources, or all of the information within a relevant data source, will need to be analyzed. Organizations need to identify the strategic data that will lead to valuable analytical insights. Focusing on a project's business goals in the planning stages can help an organization hone in on the exact analytics that are required, after which it can -- and should -- look at the data needed to meet those business goals.

Tomorrow, I'll share what experts say are key considerations for a Big Data business plan.