Strategy Breakfast – Wins and Failures in Big Data Projects

Last week we hosted a monthly Strategy Breakfast at the brand new Social Tables office near Metro Center. The group discussed issues that hinder enterprises when they attempt to undertake big data centered solutions, lessons that can be applied from implementation mistakes, and best steps to ensure success in data analysis efforts. A special thank you goes out to Social Tables and its staff for hosting and participating as well as to Mike Seigel (@mikejsiegel) who made this event possible.


Many companies and enterprises are already looking at or understand the importance of harnessing value from their data. A critical point addressed at the breakfast related to determining what types of information you want to extract from your information; and that you may not know what queries to ask when starting out on the implementation of a “big data” analysis or integration endeavor. One attendee suggested listing out questions you believe the project will potentially answer and establish a baseline for success – establish your desired outcome for the project. These questions and the success threshold will vary by company but will help you focus on critical business problems or challenges you are attempting to overcome. Basically, these are questions you want answered and you can clearly explain why you want them answered. For example, will the answers provide a greater understanding of project costs? Ways to improve operational efficiency? Will they better or more quickly inform decision-making? This exercise should initially be done internally by company stakeholders from various departments before engaging an outside firm to help hone the questions and construct the infrastructure for a solution.

big data


Over the course of the discussion, a consensus emerged that most big data projects aren’t really big data projects. Most of these projects are actually business analytics projects with a high level of complexity caused by the integration of both new and legacy systems. Many companies rush towards a “big data” solution without clearly defined business problems they want to address or not identifying benefits they wish to reap from their business information. Essentially, for a project to be successful a company needs to undertake a thorough assessment of its internal processes and desired outcomes to fully realize the benefits of data collection and analysis. Most “big data” projects don’t revolve around the issue of data sets being too big, as much as they do around connecting isolated data troves, appropriately framing the business benefits that will arise from answering data-driven questions, and finding the appropriate talent to build the infrastructure.


Join us later this month as we continue to look at technological issues facing today’s businesses and modern enterprises. The discussion will most likely focus on open-source data analysis tools you can use to help your company become more data-driven without making a significant monetary outlay. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any suggestions!


If you wish to learn more you can attend our webinar on “Unifying Business Information with Portals and Dashboards (B2B)” on October 14, at 10AM.