Have you given up on Big Data a bit too easily?

By Doug Miles, Director of Market Intelligence, AIIM

BigData-cover-small AIIM ResearchBig Data is finally starting to deliver the ROI that some IT leaders have been banking on – and some thought might never emerge. Thus as we reflected in a recent AIIM survey of organisations working on Big Data projects revealed that early adopters really now are seeing results and using them to inform their decision-making.

Nonetheless, the fact remains that too many companies don’t yet have the skills or the content to make Big Data work. What’s still holding them back? Our global database of professional information managers report that ‘dark data,’ security fears and lack of expertise are their biggest Big Data blockages.

You may be familiar with skills issues etc. but ‘dark data’ may be more opaque to you. What do we mean by this term? The term “dark data” has emerged to describe that content not under any degree of control, but which could hold useful information. In our research, for example, we saw 65% of respondents considering their unstructured content to be, in their own words, ‘somewhat chaotic’ (36%) or not well indexed or controlled (29%).

Security is another major Big Data adoption challenge – in fact it’s a potential show-stopper for nearly one in five organisations. Protecting personal data is the primary concern, but commercial and financial information is also sensitive. Security is also an inhibitor for cloud or SaaS deployment of Big Data tools.

Skills shortage is another big problem, as we said; although the past 18 months since we last polled our members on Big Data have seen more trained practitioners join the ranks, there remains an overall skills shortage, whilst the tools available are still considered hard to use and somewhat expensive.

Can anything be done about this – can these issues be pushed out of the way, allowing you to move forward and start reaping the rewards of Big Data?

The answer is a most emphatic yes. So while Big Data has matured considerably in the last 18 months, the reality is that many organisations are too immature in their content management, search, and basic reporting to contemplate big content projects.

BUT they are still making technology decisions today with the view to a Big Data future. So join them by taking steps like:

  • Focus on what piece of information, business intelligence, customer understanding or incident prediction would transform your business
  • Identify the data that you would need to analyse in order to find this key parameter. Is it in-house and accessible? If it exists outside of the business, how readily available is it? What do you need to do to get your hands on it?
  • If your content data is dirty, duplicated or inconsistently tagged (so is ‘dark’), consider using a data cleaning or migration package to apply better policy rules
  • Source the most suitable analytics tools. A productised analytics toolset may be the best answer, particularly if it is well integrated with existing content and search systems
  • Get the best toolset required for the volume of your data and which can cope with the speed at which it needs to be analysed

And last but definitely not least: take steps to build the skills base in your team needed to carry out the project.

Why? Because while external consultants will get you started, sure, but recruiting new staff or training existing staff may work much better in the long term.

Make 2014 your Big Data breakthrough year – there really are no insuperable barriers stopping you!

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