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Yogi SchulzSome organizations think that big data can only produce significant business benefits if delivered through big projects that require big investments and include big risks. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Here’s a look at how to respond to the frequently-discussed issues that create avoidable anxiety and cause big data success to elude you.

Too much concern about a data lake or a data warehouse

The current trade literature contains a raging debate about whether to use a data lake or a data warehouse or both for managing big data. How about neither?

All your data resides somewhere. Perhaps the fastest and cheapest path to business benefits is to simply access data where it sits. Most of the available software can integrate data on the fly as queries require it. Few organizations own so much data that this simple model bogs down.

Too much focus on analytics software

The marketplace offers analytics software with spectacular features and exciting developer productivity. But do you really need to spend a bunch of money to license more software and train your staff to use it before you can deliver business benefits?

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Most of the software packages you operate and pay for include ad hoc reporting, query and charting capabilities. Excel can produce considerable analytics, and you’re already paying for it. Perhaps you should exploit this existing software to the extent possible before acquiring more software.

Too much fretting about data visualization

Data visualizations look cool and can genuinely deliver meaningful insights that may have been missed with more primitive software. However, data visualizations often overwhelm or confuse your end-users.

Start the big data ball rolling with small projects that access a limited number of datasets for a small, select end-user workgroup. Build interest and momentum by first delivering comparatively simple visualizations with irrefutable business benefits.

Too much frustration about IS lack of responsiveness

Once again, the information systems (IS) department is being pummeled for alleged lack of responsiveness in failing to deliver. This time it’s about big data with analytics and visualization. Perhaps your organization is asking for the impossible after just cutting the IS budget again?

A better approach is to offer a richer self-serve environment for analytics and visualization. This approach improves responsiveness, accelerates the delivery of business benefits and reduces the pressure on the IS department.

Too much in love with big data

Have you hired too many data scientists who love big data? Are they running amuck, spending money on grandiose projects that have produced only disappointing results to date?

Data scientists are great. However, the missing secret ingredient to achieving business benefits is often an intimate understanding of how your business actually functions and its data resources.

Instead of a grandiose project, consider a small, targeted project that integrates internal data with a modest amount of external data that will challenge a data scientist and produce business benefits. A good example is a project that addresses a customer service challenge.

Too much governance and privacy standards

Has your organization implemented too much governance oversight and too many controls related to privacy standards? Are these processes gumming up the works and undermining your end-user access to big data?

I’m all in favour of reasonable governance and maintaining compliance. However, when focusing on these topics takes priority over extracting business benefits from the data you collect, your organization has lost its balance.

To right the balance, consider that most analytics is about identifying trends in aggregated data that don’t violate privacy standards for data about individuals.

Yogi Schulz has over 40 years of information technology experience in various industries. Yogi works extensively in the petroleum industry. He manages projects that arise from changes in business requirements, the need to leverage technology opportunities, and mergers. His specialties include IT strategy, web strategy and project management.

Yogi is a Troy Media contributor. For interview requests, click here.

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