The Perils of Big Data

Recently, the UK Guardian led with a story warning that the volumes of data being held by large companies could soon put strains on their IT infrastructures, which could have carryover effects to their business, and in some cases (as the article suggests with the recent Google outage), everyone else.

Businesses are being told that their data is one of their most important commodities, which means many now hoard and capture everything they can, in case it is needed one day for that all-important report that will make the Executives millions of dollars. As a result, databases are growing at an extraordinary rate. And while there is no shortage of experienced database administrator professionals that can manage these large databases (as well as ETL professionals that can move all this information around using some of the fantastic tools available), there seems to be a distinct lack of effective analysts that can advise businesses on what parts of their data are valuable and what parts are useless. Until someone makes a decision, these databases are continually growing larger and larger.

The bigger these databases get, the harder and more expensive they become to analyze and retrieve information from. The important markers, trends, and signs become buried away, and more effort and time is needed to be able to sift through the rubbish to get to the best bits that can help influence the important decisions that businesses need to make.

Companies need to understand how important it is to get their data strategy right as early as possible. Get it right early on and you can avoid the high costs that Big Data can create.

It is critical to identify what you want from your data, and how you are going to use it, as early as possible in the data lifecycle. This is done by identifying the key performance indicators (KPI’s), identifying the markers and important signals your business users will want to monitor as soon as you can. This means that you will only have to capture and process the data needed to effectively visualize these measures through well designed dashboards – the rest can be archived away or even deleted. The KPI/metric and visualization decision process is pivotal to the strategy you end up following.

By doing this early on, and investing time and money in effective strategic data and business analysis as soon as systems are implemented (rather than after they have been running for a period of time), companies can save thousands of dollars in man hours and system time.

Understanding your data, how you are going to use i,t and visualize it as early as possible, will help companies avoid Big Data issues.