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Big data’s big changes can start small


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 Our main Discover Performance site just interviewed big data writer Edd Dumbill about the cultural changes enterprises will experience as they shift—and shift they must—to a data-driven world. Dumbill talks about how to create an enterprise that truly understands how to draw business value from big data, but we worried that his common-sense approach still sounded like a huge shift to make all at once. His reply was that it’s OK to start small.


While “don’t throw out data” is one of Dumbill’s core principles, he notes that the infrastructure to support a “keep everything” data mentality is only just emerging.


Organizations will need to rely on their traditional data warehousing systems  for awhile more. But in the meantime, to be successful at change, Dumbill recommends moving gradually and making forays into organizational change that you can build upon over time.


"The way to get into this is to pick a particular area and do a test implementation,” Dumbill says. “For example, 'How do social interactions affect our sales?' ”


Once you've had success with your initial forays, he predicts, data-driven concepts will spread throughout the organization far more easily. Such obstacles as technical challenges and hiring difficulties can be overcome gradually. Mastering big data isn’t about flipping a single switch.


"Data is not all in one place right now," Dumbill says. "If you're lucky, you know where it is and only have to convince people to let go of it. If you're unlucky, you might not even know where certain data is." This issue is easier to resolve with a sequence of small-scope projects rather than an enterprise data overhaul.


On the hiring front, data science skills are in very high demand. But by giving the data science role to entrepreneurial thinkers who are excited about data, you can make progress toward your data goals while biding your time until more seasoned experts have entered the job market.


Read the full article, “Keep everything: The new data imperative,” in Discover Performance’s IM Leaders edition, and check out Dumbill’s free ebook, "Planning for Big Data: A CIO's Handbook to the Changing Data Landscape.”

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