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Five Plans for Big Data Success

While big data is only in the first stages, you want to plan for success. It is never too early to get started with planning and good practices so that you can leverage what you are learning and the experience you are gaining.

Plan your big data goals

Many organizations start their big data journey by experimenting with a single project that might provide some concrete benefit. By selecting a project, you have the freedom of testing without risking capital expenditures. However, if all you end up doing is a series of one-off projects, you will likely not have a good plan in place when you begin to understand the value of leveraging big data in the company.

Therefore, after you conclude some experiments and have a good initial understanding of what might be possible, you need to set some goals. What do you hope to accomplish with big data? Could parts of your business be more profitable with the infusion of more data? It is important to have a collaboration between IT and business units to develop well-defined goals.

After you understand the goals you have for leveraging big data, your work is just beginning. You need to involve all the stakeholders in the business.

Getting a task force together is a great way to get representatives of the business together so that they can see how their data management issues are related. This team can evolve into a team that can help various business units with best practices. The task force should have representatives from upper-management leaders who are setting business strategy and direction.

Plan for security in context with big data

While companies always list security of data as one of the most important issues they need to manage, they are often unprepared for the complexities involved in managing data that is highly distributed and highly complex. In the early stages of big data analytics, the analyst will not secure the data, because only a small portion of that data will be saved for further analysis.

However, when an analyst selects an amount of data that will be brought into the company, the data has to be secured against internal and external risk. Some of this data will have private information that must be masked so that no one without authorization has access. For security to be effective in the context of big data, you need to have a well-defined plan.

Plan a big data governance strategy

Information governance is the ability to create an information resource that can be trusted by employees, partners, and customers. A governance strategy is the joint responsibility of IT and the business.

For example, rules exist that determine how data must be protected depending on the circumstance and governmental requirements. Healthcare data must be stored so that identity and personal data remain private.

Problems can develop when an analyst collects and analyzes huge volumes of information and does not remember to implement the right governance to protect that data. Data sources themselves may be proprietary. When these sources are used within an organization, restrictions may exist on how much data is used and for what purposes.

Plan for big data stewardship

It is easy to fall into the trap of assuming that the results of data analytics are correct. Management likes numbers and likes to make decisions based on what the numbers say. But hazards can occur if the data isn’t managed in the right way.

In a situation where a company is determining which customers are potentially the best targets for a new product, a company might want to analyze 10 or 15 different sources of data to come up with the results.

Using data sources that are based on different metadata and different assumptions can send a company off on the wrong direction. Be careful and make sure that when you collect data that might be meaningful that it can execute in a way that helps the company make the most informed and accurate decisions. This means understanding how to integrate these new data sources with historical data systems.

Study big data best practices and leverage patterns to plan

As the big data market matures, companies will gain more experience with best practices or techniques that are successful in getting the right results. You can meet with peers who are investigating the ways to leverage big data to gain business results.

You can also look to vendors and systems integrators who have codified best practices into patterns that are available to customers. It is always better to find ways to learn from others rather than to repeat a mistake that someone else learned from. As the big data market begins to mature, you will be able to leverage many more codified best practices.

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