Musings on the challenges of big data in a year of serious hype
There’s a reason you haven’t heard more than a handful of big data success stories in 2012. Handling big data correctly is hard, requires huge infrastructure and resource investments, and may not be worth it…yet. According to one survey in November 2012, 60% of businesses said it’s too early to tell if their big data project was successful and produced a proper ROI. It seems that so much of the hype around big data is focused on the technologies you need to buy and the talent you need to acquire (data scientist is the latest fad title), and not on what’s most important: what you can do with the data, what value you can extract, what business decisions you can speed up or improve with all that data.
With companies jumping on the big data bandwagon to the tune of $28 billion this year, it’s time to discuss why it might be best to ignore the hype for now and focus on reaping insight from the data you have already. Here’s why I’m not impressed with your big data:
You don’t actually have big data.
The marketing hype can lead you to believe you have a “big data problem” when you really don’t. Using the terminology incorrectly has the potential to harm your business, causing you to invest in unnecessary infrastructure when you may be able to leverage what you already have in place. Even Microsoft and Yahoo! have made this mistake…
One of our blog authors, Dwight deVera – arcplan’s Senior VP of Solutions Delivery – was interviewed recently by Forbes. This week, the feature piece was published and I thought I’d share it with our readers.
arcplan Makes Chaos Comprehensible
With its promise to deliver order – or at least orderly reports – from the chaos of heterogeneous systems, and provide results including live data updates to mobile devices, arcplan has opportunity for continued growth.
The article highlights arcplan’s flexibility and independence, which allow us to consolidate Excel spreadsheets and dispersed data into reports, scorecards, and dashboards that simply work on any device. It also comments on some of the new features in arcplan 7.5, like drag-and-drop from arcplan to Excel, Live Screenshot widgets, and more.
Dwight also shares his opinions on the popularity of Excel, the iPad as an executive tool, and how he expects Microsoft’s Surface tablet to perform.
The business intelligence tools of yesterday were slow, expensive, difficult to use, and required long implementation times. Well…let’s be honest – many of today’s BI tools are still this way. I find it amazing what some organizations will put up with when it comes to BI. Best-in-class organizations, however, are going after agile BI like never before. Agile BI enables “flexibility by accelerating the time it takes to deliver value with BI projects,” according to TDWI. That’s the formal definition, but what does agile BI look like in practice?
The concept of agile BI has made users more demanding in what they expect out of a BI solution. They want information in their hands faster so they can make decisions in a timely manner – that is, they want to make decisions based on today’s data, not data that’s 3 weeks old. They want simple, intuitive self-service BI tools that allow them to manipulate and analyze data themselves, without having to wait for IT. And they want BI that’s implemented quickly so they see faster time-to-value.
So agile BI is about timely information, self-service analysis, and rapid implementation. But it’s also the key to increasing BI adoption at your organization. Let’s explore why.
It’s that time of year again – when quarter- and year-end obligations have finance departments frantically crunching numbers to wrap-up their annual reports and create plans for the upcoming year. Some endure the same budgeting, planning and forecasting frustrations year after year, including too many spreadsheets and lack of strategic insight, with little or no plans to make things better for the next cycle. Why fall victim to Einstein’s definition of insanity (doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results) when there’s so much more to gain from taking charge of your planning?
Here’s what you can look forward to with a software-enabled budgeting and planning process:
1) Timely, accurate plans and reports
Planners are often plagued by disjointed information from various sources and multiple spreadsheets, where no “single version of the truth” exists and for all the numbers piling up, there’s no supporting text. As a result, they spend a great deal of time consolidating and reconciling data, which is half the job but takes up 100% of the time. Many planners experience the misfortune of completing a plan weeks or even months too late, negating its validity and rendering the idea of replanning as conditions change totally impossible. It’s a vicious cycle that doesn’t yield a lot of value to the organization.