A Gartner survey in 2013 found that 64% of enterprises were either deploying or planning big data projects. However, writing for the HBR.org Blog Network, Phil Simon is sceptical.
Simon claims the numbers contradict what he is seeing in the field. He thinks most organisations are still “feeling their way” when it comes to big data. The author believes many people are confused and intimidated when it comes to big data. They are not sure whether to start small or large, or what the ROI will be.
However, Simon insists that traditional discussions about return on investment are inappropriate. He explains: “Outcomes of big-data deployment are inherently uncertain – predicting its ROI is an exercise in futility.”
If your company is going to embark on the big data path, the first few months are crucial, advises Simon. You need to take a close look at your current practices regarding data: if you’re not doing a good job of managing small amounts of structured data, you’re unlikely to make a success of big data.
There are danger signs to look out for, such as: a culture of making decisions based on politics, tradition and policy rather than data; the punishment of failure and an aversion to risk.
But if your company is ready to take on big data, use the first year as a learning process. Find out what does and doesn’t work and which sources are the most valuable.
Simon comments: “It’s important to achieve – and communicate – little victories, such as getting employees to learn new tools and ask better questions of their data sources.”
These “victories” can form the foundation of future insights, says the author.