First Steps in Planning for Big Data

I’m sure you’ve read a number of articles about how Big Data is the next big thing and if you aren’t on board you’ll be left behind.  I’m sure you’ve also read how Big Data is just data combined hype, and that the bubble is bursting already.  I believe, as is often the case, the truth is a little unclear but somewhere in the middle.

Planning your approach on how you might exploit Big Data is no different than the process of investigating any other technology opportunity or new source of data.  In this case, though, you are trying to uncover ‘nuggets‘ of valuable information in a larger sea of data. The Big Data tools might be new and unfamiliar, the skills may be slightly different, but the process is not rocket science.

Develop a Plan

    1. Obtain approval to move forward (i.e. time and money for discovery)
    2. Define Goals and Objectives – Understanding the organizational goals and objectives first will set the foundation for the rest of the plan.
    3. Obsess on Users – When discussing and reviewing with the potential business community, challenge how they use data in reaching conclusions and making decisions. Focus on what they don’t have and cannot do in the current environment.
    4. Identify Sources of data – PDFs, location data from cell phones, email, twitter, blogs, HR documents, warehouse records, call center notes, field service notes, etc.
    5. Business Justification – Quantifying exact cost reductions, increase in income (revenue), or customer satisfaction can be tricky , but remember we are talking about a discovery process, not a full-fledged implementation.
    6. Determine Budget – Also tricky, since we are not talking Big Data tools just yet.  The budget is dependent on the cost of acquiring and storing the data you are interested in.  The number of staff and duration of the project will depend on how ‘close to the surface’ the valuable data is, and how much work is required to expose the ‘nuggets’.  It can help to talk to other organizations or experts who have worked on this type or project before.
    7. Identify Tools and Technologies – Identification of candidate tools/technologies that align with business goals and budget is also critical.  Not all solutions are created the same (nor are they priced the same).  You do not want to spend months evaluating ALL the possible solutions in the marketplace.
    8. Make Room for Experimentation – Allow time for experimentation in the project. There is a good chance that you’ll make an unexpected discovery.  Don’t eliminate that possibility.

At a high level, it should be more obvious that getting into Big Data is not too different than exploring any other new project or technology.   Having an idea of what you’re trying to achieve, knowing how long and how much you can afford to invest, and keeping an eye out for the unexpected are the most important aspects of the discovery process.

Finding people with the right expertise and a track record are in high demand, but the eVerge Group has skilled people who can provide assistance. This help could be simply providing details of case studies demonstrating success stories of similar organizations.  It could also be helping to develop a business plan, then executing the project to show the return on investment possible when you exploit that ‘Big Data’.

Check out Oracle’s website for information on Oracle’s Big Data Solutions offering.

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