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Three steps to Big Data perfection: Accelerating Big Data strategy and ROI

During the recent Big Data Analytics Conference, we spoke to numerous Big Data executives from FTSE 250 companies and found that nearly half (44 per cent), cited assessing internal Big Data capabilities as their biggest challenge when implementing a Big Data strategy.

This is, understandably, a significant problem and, given the variables at play as well as the complexity of the multi-phased programmes, it’s easy to see how keeping all the balls in the air at different stages of the Big Data journey is daunting. But it needn’t be. Companies that have already taken steps down this road simply need to measure and understand what their current Big Data assets are and whether they are delivering against the defined business goals and if not, where the gaps are. Similarly, organisations just don’t know what and where to invest, how to become 'data-driven' and how to maximise business value. With all of these challenges in mind, we can understand how enterprises can become intimidated at any stage of the implementation of their Big Data strategy.

One of our main focuses at the moment is how best to get ready for Big Data implementation and maintain up-to-date capabilities throughout the journey but, for today, we’ll call out three key parts of the business that need evaluating to ensure Big Data readiness:

1. Technology

Chances are, your existing architecture is a hotchpotch of new and old systems, neither of which were ever truly designed with Big Data in mind. It’s imperative that you can recognise where help may be required in assessing your IT infrastructure to see what is fit for purpose and provide recommendations for the best-suited technology. As difficult as it may be, some underlying tools may have to be replaced, or additional functionality built to support the new Big Data solutions that is scalable to meet your evolving business requirements today and in the future.

2. Business

Is your business actually ready to capitalise on Big Data solutions? Do all the senior stakeholders understand what Big Data adoption can do and where it will best add to the bottom line? Which projects take priority? Do you have the right people in place to adopt Big Data? You need to know the answers to all these questions and many more to establish where investment is required to maximise the returns from the costly investment.

3. Governance

Finally, you need to know how Big Data is perceived within the organisation as, like any big undertaking, it’s vital people are pulling in the same direction. You must ensure you comply with the ever changing regulations, and have the trust and confidence of the senior people in the business, as well as the autonomy to address the challenges that they pose.

These three stages are essential, because when it comes to assessing Big Data Capability, businesses must continue assessment beyond the technology stack and into the business and area owners, as well as governance to avoid costly penalties.

To discover the full potential of your Big Data strategy, your entire organisation needs to have at least a baseline understanding of its potential. Once a team of experts has collaboratively assessed your company’s Big Data capability, you’ll be ready for the phase of discovery as you assess new Big Data technologies and what they can do for your business. After that, the sky’s the limit. Watch this space for more on preparing for Big Data.

Paul Quinn, Head of Architecture, Big Data Partnership