Big data: start small posted on Fri, June 22 2012

If you are not working on big data yet, you should start thinking about it. In a recent report, ‘The Big Deal About Big Data for Customer Engagement’, Forrester outlines a number of steps companies can take to start using big data as a competitive weapon.

According to Forrester, organizations planning big data initiatives should begin with a data exploration process to identify use case scenarios and the relevant technologies necessary to process different data types. Big data initiatives that are launched without defining formal use cases will ultimately fail.  “Big data initiatives require holistic planning, and companies must plan for phased rollout to ensure positive business outcomes,” writes Forrester’s Sanchit Gogia.

CIOs should let the business own the initiative, says Forrester, but IT and business do need to liaise on the project. The CIO’s role is to assist the business leaders in identifying opportunities where firms can extract value from large pools of existing data and real-time data streams. One of the key success factors the CIO holds is to outline metrics and KPIs that the implementation will monitor.

Big data introduces some novelties into the IT infrastructure, like new data types and larger volumes of data. CIOs should keep the five V’s in mind when thinking about big data: volume, velocity, variety, variability and value. A CIO will be forced to change the information management strategy to accommodate both new data sources and types. Organizations should identify new investments based on how they plan to capture and use the data.

Forrester also recommends that CIOs start small and incrementally roll out big data initiatives. “The key is to start small, reuse components of the existing infrastructure and solve the selected use cases. This will help manage the initiative better, avoid silos and allow success to be measured on an ongoing basis.”

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