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February 21, 2017

Big Data Explained

In five questions or less, an industry expert defines and explains a technology, term or trend – with this installment seeing Robert Dagge, Managing Director at Dynistics, tackle the Big Data buzzword.

By James Nunns

CBR: What is Big Data?

RD: Big Data is the generic term widely used to describe the mammoth amount of data that is collected on a minute by minute, hour by hour and day to day basis, by both public and private sector organisations.  For any given organisation data allows them to truly understand the organisation from both an internal and external viewpoint, which can allow a significant competitive advantage.

Big Data is evolving at an unprecedented pace. With the now established “IoT” and the emergence of new technologies that gather terabytes of data in a single afternoon, Big Data is only going to become more complex and unwieldly unless there is structure and understanding behind the need for data. With so much data, the presentation and visualisation of the data will be key to its adoption.


CBR: How is Big Data transforming UK companies?

RD: Companies that choose to/attempt to embrace the complex world of “Big Data” are positioning themselves significantly rather better than those that don’t. In the current climate of substantial economic challenges and political uncertainty, the companies that are able to adapt and evolve the quickest will be the ones that survive and grow.

The technological landscape is developing at an unparalleled speed, with certain verticals taking advantage and able to leverage a new way of doing “things”. We have seen the likes of insurance, banking, leisure, retail, manufacturing and logistics all benefit from understanding of big data capture and usage.


CBR: How should you go about starting a Big Data project?

RD: There are two key elements to any Big Data project. Firstly the need to understand key business drivers, without which it is impossible to start, manage or complete a successful Big Data project.

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A close second, is the need to establish what is and what isn’t included within the data sets and parameters of what needs to measured and assessed.

Whilst Big Data is deemed new and exciting, traditional, solid project management skills and experience are needed to ensure a better chance of a successful project.  A clearly defined project scope with executive support is critical for any project, but even more so with Big Data because of a lot of misconceptions and lack of understanding of the potential complexity of data.

Big Data Explained
CBR: What should you do if your Big Data project fails?

RD: There is no way of getting away from Big Data, it is here to stay and will only get more complex and embedded within society and business. If the project fails, then the old adage of try and try again have never been more accurate. The business case probably hasn’t changed, if anything it will be reinforced, so you need to re-evaluate and move forward.

Learn from your mistakes and reset. Realign the project and follow good project management process from the outset. Understand why the project didn’t work first time and ensure that lessons have been learnt. Most importantly, make sure that blame isn’t attributed, but rather understand what needs to change. It will be critical for the executive sponsor to really support and galvanise the teams to make the next attempt successful.


CBR: What are the main considerations when embarking on a Big Data project?

RD: When tackling any Big Data project, it is imperative that whilst there may be less understanding than on previous projects, that the project is treated as a potential game changer for the whole company.   Every business should understand its own data inside out.  One of the biggest factors for success will be the support that is given by the executive sponsors.  The project will be pushing new boundaries and will face challenges that have not been seen in the organisation before, so will need a good leader at the helm.

It’s important to understand the importance of Big Data, give it the resource and support that it truly needs to be successful.  You will end up doing this project now, or within the next few years whether you like it or not, so do it right.  Resource with the right team and you will have a better chance of success.

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