How to make a big data project work

One of the things that often happens when something gets big in tech is that it gets adopted by people who aren’t 100% sure what they’re talking about. When it comes to cloud computing, one of the biggest buzzwords is big data, but what is it and how do you make it work?

Many companies will have “using big data” as part of their strategy but where do you start, and what are the problems you might face?

Don’t be afraid of complexity

The first issue is one of complexity. Big Data – like anything big – is a beast and unwieldy if not used properly. But there can also be another major tech issue that compounds that problem; legacy IT. If a company has opted for a hybrid solution but hasn’t updated some of their older legacy platforms, this can make it even harder to implement a new data strategy that needs a flexible and agile platform.

Have a clear objective

It’s also important to know what the plan is and what you use the data for. With technology, IT teams are often tasked with a strategy that’s based on simply conjecture, or a question that doesn’t quite fit. It’s important for any plan to begin with a clear objective. What do you want the data to answer? Is it about how customers use your company, what they’re buying or when they’re buying it?

Create teams with the best skill set

Knowing how to identify those key questions then becomes an important step in delivery. The best way to do this is to have the right people in the room when you start the project. Too often, IT teams or other experts are brought into the project too late. They can have valuable insight as to what the technology can do, what it can be used for and how that can help shift or explore human behaviour. It’s about getting the data to work in the best way it can, and often IT teams have a greater insight than most into how that can be done.

Ask lots of questions

What will you do with the data once you have it? If all goes to plan, if the question is right and the strategy in place and the methodology works, how do you want the data to implement your business operation? And what will you put in place to make the necessary changes? If people are buying more of a particular product at a specific time, how will the supply chain change to make this easier?

And offer insight

The best big data projects are rooted in the simple question and answer that data can provide. It’s about offering insight and perspective and the best strategy is to go into the process with a clear idea of what you want to achieve, but keeping an open mind along the way. It’s pointless to start with a hope of expecting the data to prove what you were going to do anyway, but it’s also a waste of resources not to implement the answers the data provides for you.

Having a clear plan, simple objectives and knowing you’re asking the right questions makes all the difference between a big data project succeeding and failing.

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