Considerations when adopting big data technology

By Phil Marneweck
Phil Marneweck from MTS Holdings gives insight into things to consider when thinking about big data technology.

Due to the exponential pace of innovation in information, data and digital technologies, data growth is continuously escalating.

MTS Holdings

In almost every sector from financial services, to healthcare, agriculture and mining, in recent years, data growth has risen and exceeded the capacity of traditional computing systems – increasing the complex dimensions to convert data sources into actionable information. 

Simply put, ‘actionable information’ is the process of simplifying information to a level where it the application of data helps business managers to effect better decision-making, inform strategies and simplify arduous (streamline) reporting processes in legislation heavy industries.

Not only are businesses struggling to keep up with the pace of technological change but, many businesses have still not implemented a data warehouse. South African businesses are already lagging behind the international market adoption curve. Some of those who did implement a data warehouse did so poorly or abandoned their data warehousing, and business intelligence (BI) projects for technologies and solutions they assume will provide a strategic advantage.

It is entirely understandable that you may find yourself in a quandary. The following considerations will help you through the challenges when thinking of adopting big data technologies:

  1. Implementing a single action or breakthrough in technology is not an adequate solution. The notion that the silver bullet pursuit is a useful technology strategy to unlock and harness the value of data is a position that I oppose. 
  2. Too often technology is adopted in a silo approach, and this means that culture and team dynamics are not considered. Catalyse organisational culture change while building data warehousing and business solutions at a steady pace. 
  3. Enable a learning environment that gives teams an opportunity to acquire the data management knowledge and harness the collective capability over time. It is unfortunate that this is still one of the most underestimated success factors for successful big data adoption. 
  4. Choosing an out-of-the-box solution is daunting and most often doesn’t suit the requirements of the business, not to mention legislation-heavy industries. Do you want to select a pre-defined logic that is not suitable for your business, not to mention not relevant and specific to your industry? 
  5. If you have not started to think about building internal capacity to adopt big data technologies to optimise data and analytics in your company, then you are part of the South African businesses that lag behind the international market adoption curve and less competitive in your industry.
  6. Engage a trustworthy service provider that can build a solution and help you take advantage of the capabilities of big data technologies.  

Adoption is always risky, but risk brings benefits. Whether you opt to build onto your existing framework, adopt cloud-based technologies or run parallel, these configuration choices can be challenging in meeting the necessary resource requirements, not to mention investment.   

However, small shifts can be made. For example, shifting from traditional ways of managing data sources is a small step you can take to transform your business and your sector. Some technology start-ups have developed solutions using big data technologies to help companies to drive innovation that solve business problems. If this is new to you, you may feel like it is a conundrum. 

I would suggest that you first understand data analysis before tackling business intelligence.  First, discover what ‘useful information’ means. If you want to accelerate the shifts, get a senior data specialist on board who can also help you set a path to manage valuable data, determine its usefulness, impact and utilisation for competitive advantage. 




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