Have you ever realized that our IT departments today have the tendency to put technologies into a box, e.g. separating business intelligence or data warehouse from the rest? We need to avoid this separation when it comes to Big Data. Big Data requires open big thinking right from the beginning.

Big Data is a new ecosystem of people, roles and technology.

I firmly believe if we consider Big Data just as technology we will miss the value Big Data can bring to our business and to our customers. Big Data by definition has a very exploratory approach, i.e. sometimes you only might know 10% of what you can get out of your data in the beginning, but as you progress you unveil the full potential by gaining new insights about your data. This is the reason why it is highly recommended to put all stakeholders into the “Big Data ecosystem” right from the beginning and do not limit yourself just to the IT people. Good customer examples show that at least business departments, development teams and IT operations need to be part of the community to ensure Big Data is being considered from various dimensions. For most of them, Big Data is a new topic, but each one of them has valuable expertise you need to take into consideration. But you should not stop there, if you want to explore new business opportunities with Big Data, you need to set up a community of people that collaborate among each other focusing on the goal to gain new insights and possibilities when starting or implementing a Big Data initiative.

Here a list of roles you might consider for your “ECOSYSTEM” – a multidisciplinary team:

  • Customers and Partners – they provide a different view on your data, and they might enrich your Big Data with data that they can provide. Customer-centric thinking is maximizing the customer value.
  • Business Analysts and Other Departments – how should you figure what you want to achieve, if you do not understand the needs and challenges of business? Talk to these people and understand why they sometimes consider the IT department as a limiting factor and how they view the value of data.
  • Entrepreneur – even if you do not want to start a new company, it requires people that can think the “unbelievable”; people who are not limiting themselves on how you are doing business today. Big Data requires exploratory thinking of people who are not afraid confronting others with new ideas.
  • Designer and Communicator – data is only as good as you can articulate the value and the insights to a wide audience of stakeholders. This is not just putting nice graphics on a screen; it is about the full end-user experience focusing on the relevant and important information.
  • Legal - legal considerations should not stop us or slow us down, but they should give guidance how we are dealing with data. Data becomes more and more a value asset. You need to understand who owns the data, how can you trade data or are you allowed to use data of someone else.
  • Data Scientist – people who understand the data and that are able to develop algorithms to automatically scan the data to leverage it for specific purposes.
  • IT Operations – those people know how to run your systems in a reliable way – leverage that expertise to map it onto the new world of Big Data technologies in context of new deployment models (e.g. cloud).
  • OLTP and OLAP developer – historically we have separated the transactional data processing world from the analytical one. We need to overcome this boundary, as raw transaction data can become a new high-value data source and data warehouses continue to hold valuable intelligence for your operations .
  • Board Members – I nearly forgot them. How can they make a decision on new investments, if you have not taken their world into consideration, e.g. growing the business, increasing margins and saving costs, meeting the KPI’s, gaining competitive advantage or discovering new markets and revenue streams. You need to help them to understand new opportunities leveraging Big Data by using story-telling and other smart modes of communication.
  • Others?

You might want to add additional roles to the list. As more Big Data is being linked into your organizational network, the better you are positioned to think big and get a head start to drive new opportunities.

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