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The Dos and Don’ts of Adopting a Big Data Strategy

The Dos and Don’ts of Adopting a Big Data Strategy

May 22, 2015 0 Comments

Tony Fisher helps small and mid-sized business get started with their Big Data strategy.

Vice President of Data Collaboration and Integration at Progress® DataDirect®, Tony Fisher, has been making rounds on the web recently, talking to writers at Datanami, insideBIGDATA and Forbes. His message? No business is too small to harness Big Data. In fact, effective Big Data strategies need to start small.

Don’t Fear Big Data

“Big Data” can be a problematic term, especially for small or mid-sized businesses. It echoes terms like “Big Oil” and “Big Pharma” that are often used disparagingly toward the elite organizations sitting at the top of their industries. It can also imply complex, sprawling networks of unwieldy servers that require lots of resources to maintain. In reality Big Data simply refers to diverse, fast-changing and massive data sets that businesses of all sizes need to leverage in order to get a complete picture of their customers and their operations so they can start solving problems and make data-driven decisions.

“If you know what problem you are trying to solve, the technology is out there as well as the expertise,” Fisher tells Forbes. By taking this approach—identifying problems before searching for solutions—Big Data technologies are a lot less daunting. For those who still struggle after identifying their problems, it’s reassuring to know data connectivity experts at organizations like Progress are readily available.

Don’t Throw the Data Baby Out with the Bathwater

On the flip side, it’s possible to be overzealous with your Big Data strategy and assume you need a total overhaul. The idea of wiping the slate clean and building a new system that meets your needs from the ground up can sound appealing at first, but it’s a bit like fixing something that isn’t broken. “You can’t get rid of the old stuff. You just can’t,” Fisher says in his Datanami spotlight. “Those people who say you need to get rid of everything whole hog are probably not people who are actually in the real world doing the work.”

Adopting an effective Big Data strategy takes a measured hand. Businesses should take a good look at the systems they already have in place and look for ways to supplement those systems rather than supplant them—retaining their heritage systems while embracing new solutions.

Don’t Let Big Data Create a Big Mess

Last week, Fisher shared this anecdote with insideBIGDATA:

I have this neighbor that has a fantastic workshop and a wide array of top of the line tools. But his workshop is always a disaster with tools everywhere and the debris from past jobs everywhere and no sense of order to his tools. He had an inspired solution to this problem, build a bigger workshop. Now he has a big workshop that is always a disaster.

As is often the case, it helps to look before you leap. The “workshop problem”—assuming that bigger is automatically better—is extremely common and often disastrous as it only serves to make your problems grow. You need a Big Data strategy, but you also need to start small. Again, the process-driven approach of defining problems first, then finding solutions to those specific problems is the best practice for organizations interested in entering the Big Data arena.

Do Get the Right Tools and the Right Team

Getting started with Big Data is easy—you just need to start small! Drop us a line to learn more, or check out our website for more information on our industry-leading suite of data connectivity solutions.

Jared Douglas

Jared Douglas is a Marketing Specialist at Progress, working on the DataDirect business. Since earning his Bachelor's degree at North Carolina State University, he has been responsible for coordinating content for the Data Connections blog and talking about the latest and greatest from the world of data connectivity and integration.

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