Gaining Insight From Big Data: How to Begin

Topics: Govern Information

Big data initiatives are taking off in companies around the world. Here are some tips on how an organization can start gaining insight from big data.

Companies around the world have begun to realize the value of big data initiatives. Here are some steps that businesses can take to begin gaining insight from big data.

Understand the Business

First and foremost, organizations must develop a solid understanding of their business goals and what they hope to achieve through their big data analysis. By evaluating their strategic plans for the coming years, enterprises can identify any potential issues that might stand in the way of success.

Understand the Problem

Once organizations understand any potential problems, they can perform the necessary analysis. At this point, enterprises should ask: What is the impact of this issue? How much is the solution to this issue valued in the organization?

During the process of evaluating the problem, businesses will want to define a use case and be able to explain the issue in terms of their overall strategy.

Plan the Project

From an understanding of the problem comes the planning of the actual project. First, an organization must define the scope and necessary time frame. By understanding the big data initiative's key stakeholders, businesses can develop a communication plan for the project and assemble a team that possesses the required skills.

Evaluate the Data

In order to run a successful initiative, organizations need to understand the sources of big data that are available to them. Oftentimes, this means dealing with various sources of less-than-trusted data. These sources will likely be better structured at enterprises that have embarked on information governance efforts.

In understanding the problem at hand, organizations should also develop a solid understanding of the types of data that will be necessary to analyze the various solutions. This data may already live within the company. However, organizations might also need to collect or purchase the necessary data.

Understand the Methodology

Most big data initiatives get off the ground with a platform that was already selected based on staffing expertise. In scenarios where this is not the case, organizations must evaluate different platforms. During this process, it is important for them to understand the type of methodology that they will be employing, whether that be traditional waterfall, agile or iterative. This understanding will help guide an organization's approach and data choices.

Tie in Existing Information Leaders

One of the often forgotten pieces of establishing a big data initiative is partnering with existing information leaders. Information management doesn't live within a vacuum, and the insights of those who deal with information on a regular basis should be sought after and valued. Within an organization, there are a cadre of information owners and experts, from records managers to business process managers. These information leaders should be leveraged as a resource to big data initiatives, as they can provide insights on the underlying data and the processes by which data streams are gathered. With big data comes big responsibility, and ensuring a proper understanding of the underlying data requires a reliance on existing information leaders from other sectors.

In the beginning, businesses should leverage short-term, smaller big data projects in order to show the value of these types of efforts and build upon early wins. By developing a solid understanding of their projects' goals and necessary skill sets, organizations can begin gaining insight from big data.