To get in the Big Data game, a company needs three kinds of table stakes. The first is the data itself: large quantities of information in a format allowing for easy access and analysis. Most large companies already have this—in fact, they generally have more than they can use. The second is advanced analytical tools, such as Hadoop and NoSQL. Both proprietary and open-source tools and platforms are widely available these days— all you need are people capable of putting them to work. That brings us to the third, and usually the most challenging, set of table stakes: expertise. Advanced analytics requires staff with state-of-the-art skills in everything from data science to worldwide privacy laws, along with an understanding of the business and the relevant sources of value.
But table stakes alone won’t help you win, because Big Data isn’t just one more technology initiative. In fact, it isn’t a technology initiative at all; it’s a business program that requires technical savvy. So you can’t just add more capacity and expertise, and expect your IT or marketing functions to begin generating data-based insights. Even if they did, the rest of the company would be unlikely to act on those insights. As the analytics leaders have discovered, succeeding with Big Data requires a different approach: You need to embed Big Data deeply into your organization. It’s the only way to ensure that information and insights are shared across business units and functions. This also guarantees the entire company recognizes the synergies and scale benefits that a well-conceived analytics capability can provide. Let’s look at what’s involved.
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