How To Get Ready for Big Data Opportunities

Just recently my wife and I experienced the joys of planning our own wedding. Along our journey there were hundreds of decisions to work through together, but one of the more interesting decisions we had to make was for our cake:

Would you like your cake to be real or fake?” – asked the baker.

Perplexed, we inquired – “What? People make fake cakes?!”

Yep. To cut costs, simplify the build, and improve appearance, bakers offer styrofoam as faux-cake base layers and then simply add the icing and decorations on top. Enamored by its beauty and loving the lower price we, of course, went with a fake cake. Who really cares about the cake anyways?

Reflecting back on it all, I can’t help but draw a parallel to the current trends in our software industry. Specifically the high percentage of organizations that are being drawn to the hype of predictive analytics and in-memory computing. We bump into business leaders every day who want to become more globally integrated and drive executive insights for better decision-making and agility. Leveraging big data for innovation is critical to remain competitive and grow, yet a staggering percentage of companies willingly admit their lack of controls or governance for current information assets. How much value can a company really reap from these new solutions without a strong core of operations? Nowhere near their potential.

Preparing for big data and advanced analytics requires a reliable foundation of operational excellence defined by Process Integrity, Organizational Alignment, Information Governance and Trustworthy Metrics. To elaborate:

  • Process Integrity - Rigorous and documented definitions for both ‘traditional’ processes like procure-to-pay or order-to-cash AND their accompanying data processes.
  • Organizational Alignment - Business and IT organizations have integrated operations and initiatives that are rallied around complementary results.
  • Information Governance - Focused on data supporting business critical processes and analytics to ensure governance strategy addresses the most vital needs for the organization.
  • Trustworthy Metrics – Reliably measured via direct and sustainable alignment with the key initiatives and imperatives that are driving the business model(s) they support.

Baking these capabilities into your organization’s DNA certainly takes time, resources and money; but the ROI is quick and downstream rewards are tremendous. Only after these characteristics are addressed can business leaders make confident decisions that recognize the incremental value of advanced analytics.

Word to the wise: Our cake looked amazing, but nobody could eat it…don’t make my mistake…address your operational challenges and then slice into big data opportunities.

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