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The Fourth V in Big Data

At Cisco Live! Melbourne, I was invited to speak at the Executive Symposium to nearly 100 of Cisco’s top customers in the Australia and New Zealand region.  In my talk, Gaining Insight from the Big Data Avalanche, I covered big data business opportunities and technology challenges.

To level set at the start, I opened with a definition of big data, including the typical velocity, volume, and variety seem to be the three V’s everyone hears when it comes to big data.    But then I challenged the audience to consider the fourth and in fact most important V, holding back on identifying it so the audience could consider what was missing.

Gaining Insight from the Big Data Avalanche from Cisco Data Center

After an appropriate pause, I told them the most important V was value.  Value is the only reason to work on big data.  This value must be seen in better business outcomes such as:

  • Higher Customer Profitability
  • Faster Time to Market
  • Reduced Cost
  • Improved Risk Management
  • Better Compliance
  • Greater Business & IT Agility

It is interesting how people get knocked off guard by the big data buzzwords.  So go back to the basics.  Start by getting your business case in order.  Once the value to the business is understood, juggling higher data velocity, volume and/or variety becomes an engineering problem. Certainly, a new class of engineering problem, requiring new technologies and skills, but it is a fully solvable engineering problem nonetheless.

For IT, big data is as much an organizational change challenge, as a technology challenge.  Practical first steps that seem to work well include:

  • Experiment with a smaller, “SWOT” team on a selected set of projects.  This is a great way to introduce something new.
  • Go for some quick and easy wins, rather than boiling the ocean with large-scale initiatives.  That is a proven technique for gaining momentum.
  • Implement a solution with revenue impact, such a next-best offer analytic to improve upsell performance or a predictive churn analytic that helps reduce customer defection.  These high visibility projects will ease business funding challenges and improve executive visibility / sponsorship.

 

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