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Start Small, Think Big and Move Fast with Analytics

By  Charles Clark  on  12 Jun 2015
  • Data Strategy
  • Analytics Best Practice

Recently, I was enjoying a planning session with a close business partner who heads up “Information Management” for one of the large system integrators in Europe. As we discussed go-to-market plans, he said a Gartner analyst was recently advocating a “start small, think big and move fast” approach when it comes to analytics, particularly with regards to big data. 

The whole concept of data lakes, large object-based storage repositories that hold data in its native format until it is needed, and the potential they may hold is on the tip of everybody’s tongues.  However, anyone with a drop of experience in analytics will know the risks and hurdles one will face along the journey are not trivial.

According to Gartner Research, more than half of all analytics projects fail because they aren’t completed within budget or on schedule, or because they fail to deliver the features and benefits that are optimistically agreed on at their outset. Furthermore, poor data can cost businesses 20%–35% of their operating revenue.

Traditionally organizations have been keeping hold of their uncleansed data without correcting it, waiting to organize it at a later date. Understandably, the value in poor data is very low and when implementing an analytics solution, it will need to be clean and ready to go.

Three-step solution to approaching big data and analytics

1. Start out small Instead of starting with a lake, begin with a puddle and then add more over time.  Don’t be frightened of failure but always approach each project with a fail quickly attitude. Use the cloud to its fullest as it contains your costs to $000’s with no technical risk!  If you cut corners by going big from the start, you run the risk of incurring unforeseen data issues that will make it particularly tough for you.  Give your puddles time to grow in number and before you know it they may well start connecting.   Once they start connecting, you will soon have a pond and then a reservoir with which you can drink from.

2. Thinking big from the outset is an important guide and driver.  It enables you to keep both eyes on the goal and not get bogged down with tactical issues.  It frees you to constantly move forward and keenly seek the break out. Without the big picture you will not see the present tactical wins as stepping stones or foundation blocks.  You will not connect the puddles up and be less likely to manifest each of these into a lake or reservoir. 

3. Move like Grease Lightning at every step of the journey. As each puddle is formed or you notch up a failure, pivot with your new knowledge quickly. Put achievements into production and ensure the business is aligned whilst getting as much feedback as you can, it’s critical.  With a single compass or goal and an infectious appetite for data, you will break out.       

When it comes to strategy, it is a risk to attempt implementation without good forethought and planning. Despite this, it is important not to plan needlessly or to the point of exhaustion, this could wind up having more of a negative effect than good. By balancing the planning, speed and execution of your approach, you can align for big data and analytics in the right way and set yourself and your organization up for encouraging times ahead.