IT Management

- What are our competitors doing with Big Data?

- What are some of the possible business insight questions we will be able to answer that we can’t answer now?

- What decision making can be improved with more information?

- What processes could be re-engineered and improved if we knew more? Would that save us money?

- What new applications will we be able to create that will help the business in things such as more revenue, decreased costs and improved customer satisfaction?

- Do we have employees with the right skills to help us be more data centric in our decisions?

The big issue is not to talk about whether or not you should use Hadoop, but rather “what use should we make of data, big and small, to help the business?”

The right way to talk about Hadoop to a CEO is not to talk about it at all until you have made a strong case that the analysis of Big Data is going to be important to your business. It is likely that Hadoop will be one of the ways you get the value out of Big Data.

Data Warehouse Augmentation

If your company is on the fence with Big Data overall, there is another angle to learn and use Hadoop. There is growing interest in using Hadoop to handle the increased pressures on your existing data warehouse. For many companies, the impact of Big Data has made it nearly impossible for a single platform to meet all of the company’s data warehouse needs. Hadoop will not replace relational databases or traditional data warehouse platforms, but its amazing price/ performance gives you an option to lower costs while keeping your existing reporting and analytics infrastructure.

One of the best places to try Hadoop is at the front-end with your ETL processes. Or consider some testing at the back-end where you can use Hadoop to create active archives. There could be other activities, depending on your situation, where Hadoop’s parallel processing powers for both structured and unstructured data could improve your existing data warehouse performance.

Healthy Skepticism

Most executives start with a skeptical attitude about new technology for good reasons: They’ve seen the failures and watched horror stories unfold. They know that their technology team loves to play with the latest and the greatest technologies. They know that some IT investments blow up as often as they work out. Gone are the days of investments in technology just because it sounds cool.

Experienced and thoughtful management will look for a realistic path to measured business value, along with the outlines of a plan for broad adoption if all goes well. The path to business value should describe the initial questions that will be answered by the technology, the processes that will be improved and the decisions that will be made better with more information. The suspected business impacts should be defined.

Then just go for it. Dip your toe in the flood waters and see what happens.

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