IT Best Practices

Get Started with Big Data: Tie Strategy to Performance

Gathering enormous amounts of data is no longer a difficult task for anyone who wants to do it, but being able to understand and utilize that data effectively is something altogether different. This article from Harvard Business Review (and authored by both Dominic Barton and David Court) looks at what successful companies have done in the past to implement effective big data analytics into their companies. It begins with a thorough analysis of the opportunities and threats contained within the use of big data analytics. Opportunities can include a better visibility into the results of efforts or creating new lines of business, while risks can include the time it would take to sift through data and misunderstanding what the analytics are indicating. Another step is to identify resources and gaps: Framing the basics of a big data strategy naturally leads to discussions about the kinds of information and capabilities required. For example, a review will have to consider access to analytical talent as well as potential partnerships that might help fill gaps. We often find that consideration of required internal and external data will often spark “aha” moments, as executives identify “data gems” cloistered inside their business units or recognize the value of creating the right kind of partnership. Once risks have been identified along with opportunities, and strategy is determined, many companies want to go into action planning. Barton and Court caution against this move: instead, consider how much data strategies are involved with the overall strategy of the business. Taking time to view data strategy with the company’s other competing strategic priorities can help create next steps that don’t interfere with (and potentially strengthen) the other strategies. Finally, understand the larger implications of using big data. There are some otherwise unseen metrics that big data can bring to the surface, and this can make certain groups within the organization feel under attack.

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