Big Data

11/05/2016 15:06


Amy Gaskins – a data scientist - gave a keynote presentation at the Apache: Big Data North America conference in Vancouver on Monday.  She believes that five factors can make or break big data projects, and they are :-


Buy-in. Of course, big data projects need buy-in from senior leadership to succeed. But that may not be enough. You need buy-in at every level, right down to the person on the coal face.  Everyone needs to understand ‘why we are doing this’ and what the benefits are for the company and therefore the individuals in the company. 


Urgency.  What is the threat to your business if you do NOT do implement this big data project?  That is a factor that most people – especially those at a lower level, may not appreciate and really need to know.


Transparency. Do people both inside and outside the organization know what is happening with the Big Data project and why? Do they ‘get it’?  Will there be resistance? The more potential resistance the more the importance of transparency. And finally, can it be repeated?


Key Non ‘Data’ personnel.  All data (and especially Big Data) is nothing without the people who understand what the data means.  That could be the sales department, the customer service department, operations, logistics etc These key experts in their fields are frequently what holds big data projects together


Psychological safety. This is all about trust within the team. The techie’s and the non techies must be able to trust each other whilst working on key big data projects.


Gaskins, used a couple of personal experiences to drive home the point. 


In Afghanistan, Gaskins, once a military intelligence officer herself, served as an embedded mentor with U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM). The brigade served about 5,000 soldiers, but the intelligence unit only had six people. Gaskins helped to create a program that used truck drivers etc to help gather intelligence that the team could analyse for evidence of corruption and bribery. This considerably widened the net on information gathering. 


Working with a company in Dubai, Gaskins involved the insurance claims adjusters to help build an automated solution to detect fraud.  The system returned a 400+ percent ROI.


So whatever the purpose of the big data project you might be considering – remember to integrate the 5 points above into the project plan, to get better outcomes. 

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