I used to love the Buzz words; they were intriguing and held a promise of a quick and easy solution to a known pain, now I see a problem with them. Fab words and hype will always get precedence over what matters. It’s like the candy that witches use to lure unsuspecting children off the path in fairy tales, so they can be cooked in a big pot.
Big Data (Google statistics, social whatever, RFID, and so on…) is the promise of something new, something never before achieved. With these new fantastic methods and tools you will learn more than ever about your company and your customers than ever before. You will even be able to sway opinion before it has any negative impact on your brand. Marketing lists, customer categorization, trends, potential product development will be harvested and you can get virally spread product launches at the click of a button…In the words of Chrysta Anderson:
To remain competitive, all organizations need to analyze both internal and external data, as quickly and cost effectively as possible. As the world becomes more instrumented, with RFID tags, sensors and other sources, companies are creating more and more data. When paired with external data – like that generated by social media sites – there’s incredible opportunity that is largely untapped and unanalyzed
The pot that will cook you is the need for record investments in IT platforms, new databases, analytic tools, cloud solutions, new staff, consultants, and so on.
Sit down a minute and think about all of this. Finding how to put all of this in place is going to be as easy as catching a fly with chopsticks. In theory it can be done but it requires preparation and timing. There is no such thing as luck.
So you are still considering taking the plunge into big data? Are you really ready for it? I have already stepped into Mr. Miyagi’s world when mentioning the fly and the chopsticks so let’s look at Karate Kid to find the winning recipe for managing Big Data. To start with Mr. Miyagi had a plan a strategy, to teach the unsuspecting pupil the correct moves one by one in order to give him the strength and skill to use each separate momentum in combinations suited for the current defense or attack. Mr. Miyagi also built the most important component, trust. It was trust that was the glue that kept the training together and let it all merge into a karate champion. Mr. Miyagi also topped off Daniel-san with a secret weapon, a unique skill that no one else had and could not anticipate, “the Crane”. As I see it, if you have been the manager that has trained your staff in all the parts and built up the basics you are ready for Big Data as “The Crane” move for your business. If not, you are going to take a hard fall. Have you been a Mr. Miyagi for your company?
Why is there a big risk in Big Data without being prepared, “what can be the harm?” you might ask yourself. We will simply add more information for our departments and information is good, right? I can buy into parts of that argument, but I have worked with forecasting and how to collect and present data for a long time and I learned that more data does not in it self equal good quality. Yes, information is crucial in order to move business in the right direction, but consider this, if you give a thirsty man a sip of water you will quench his thirst, if you throw him in a pool he will surely drown. The rightt amount of information is good, too much information will distract your employees from seeing what is important. Unless you know that your organization is ready to tackle the Big Data monster, focus on what is truly important for your company.
Find your Mr. Miyagi strategy today and start working with it ASAP. Take in Big Data as one of the components down the road and define what it means and how it fits into the total picture. Next week you will probably hear of “The Swan” move or some other new distraction that you will also need to take in account, take that into your plan when the time comes as well if it has a place and so on…
I hope I just saved you from getting cooked.
Here’s a good article on the subject by one of my favourite authors Stephen Few.