Big Data – Business or Technology Problem?

Big Data – the technology challenge for our age, or part of the ongoing development of the art of management?  You get a strong technology push if you listen to the messages coming from the ICT vendor, enterprise software and consulting communities.

We have a different take on Big Data – we see it as a bigger challenge and opportunity than just transmitting and storing large amounts of data.

For many years now, the teaching of business strategy has been about looking at the environment, identifying the relevant signals and then acting on them.

We liken this to the historical challenges faced by the explorers setting out on sea voyages of discovery.  At the outset, they may not have known their destination – indeed the very nature of exploration is to see what’s out there.  However, they did not set out blindly.  The captain, navigator and crew all had their particular skills to help drive the ship, and in doing this they had to take in, act on and manage lots of signals – the weather, the sun and stars, their food supplies, enemies (and pirates!).

Isn’t this akin to today’s business planning and management?  Todays’ business managers have to do their job in a world where the data that’s available is growing exponentially.  Still, their challenges remain the same – managing the torrent of data and turning it into useful information.

So now, we come to big data.  The challenge for management is to both manage this data (and that includes the technology issues to do with bandwidth and storage) and to use it to their advantage.  Analysing and acting on Big Data enables more real time decision making, insight discovery and process optimisation.
How do we address the big data challenge??

Well, the storage vendors say “buy more”.  They may even be joined by the CIOs in saying this. The CEOs are saying “how will this benefit us”?  The CFOs, on the other hand, are saying “how do I pay for this – where’s the financial return”?  The HR managers are saying “who’s going to manage this – who has the skills”?  And the customers (and corporate lawyers) are saying “what about the privacy of my information”?
So senior executives can be forgiven for asking “What’s going on? Who else is working on this? What information is out there that I need and what would we do if we had it?”

This brings us back to the original question.  Is big data a technology issue or a wider management challenge?  We believe that the technology cannot be ignored.  However, we also believe that there are bigger problems to solve – management, skills, planning - to name a few.

That’s our thinking.   
 
What’s yours?  

Are you doing anything in the big data space? Do you have any successes that you would like to share?  What do you think is the biggest roadblock to embarking on your voyage of big data discovery? 

 

 

Written by Information Professionals - Senior Consultants, David Ekert and Tom Collins.


David is an experienced Program Manager, CIO, business manager and a CPA (Certified Practicing Accountant). David has a broad range of Finance, HR, IT and Program Management capabilities, having provided well considered opinions and trusted advice to others over a period of many years. David maintains his CPA and AIM memberships and keeps his knowledge current on emerging issues for his government and business clients.
 
Tom has over 11 years Organisation Development and Project Management experience leading and managing business improvement in large and medium size organisations. Tom’s key consulting expertise includes business process review, customer relationship management, change management, workshop facilitation, systems planning, development and implementation. 


  

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