A marketer's journey through the Big Data Archipelago


Come along with me on a journey through the Big Data Archipelago. It involves "visiting" a series of islands - an archipelago if you will - that each present a different opportunity to find value in big data.

Big data is arguably one of the most overhyped buzzwords in business today, yet we can't call it a mere "buzzword" because it's quite real. And it presents itself simultaneously as a challenge and an opportunity, so doing nothing about it is not an option for today's marketers.

We all are awash in data — big and small, structured and unstructured — and our ability to process, analyze, and manage rests in knowing the rich value of the data. To that end, I propose a structured approach to big data as a journey through an archipelago so that each marketer can tailor what they do with big data according to what makes sense for their organization.

And while ubiquitous, big data means different things to different people. So let's consider how Paul Kent, VP of Big Data at SAS talks about big data:

“That amount of data or complexity which puts you out of your comfort zone.”

Going Beyond the 3Vs

How many articles, blog posts, webcasts, or presentations on big data have you read or listened to these past few years that’s referenced Gartner’s 3Vs – volume, variety, velocity – of big data? I suspect “a lot.”

Moreover, vendors, analysts, and consultants alike have taken the liberty to expand this list, adding such V’s as value, veracity, variability, and viability, just to name a few. Framing the big data discussion around 3, 4, 7, or even 15 V’s can be problematic for marketers, however, because it doesn’t get them any closer to finding the hidden value in their data – only understanding why it’s so hard to find. This is where the big data archipelago can help.

The BigData Archipelago has 10 islands.

The big data archipelago centers the discussion around 10 key topics: analytics, processing, integration, open source adoption, location, data governance, data security, people, investment, and strategy. Note that these topics are not new. In fact, they’re the same data topics marketers have been discussing for decades. While familiar, they’re also complicated and often treacherous.

Let the Big Data Journey Begin

The big data journey is not for the faint of heart. Preparation is key and traveling alone is ill-advised. So I invite you to join me in this 10-post blog series as we navigate the ten islands in the big data archipelago. On each island, we’ll take a look at how the best practices we’ve developed around our traditional data are shifting with big data, and more importantly, the key takeaways for marketers.

Here’s a sneak peek at what lies ahead:

  • Analytics: Discovering the unknown unknowns
  • Processing: Taking advantage of big data technologies
  • Integration: Using the best tools for the job
  • Open source adoption: Taking it seriously
  • Location: Allowing data to reside where it will provide value
  • Data governance: Tackling it one project at a time
  • Data security: Treating data as a corporate asset
  • People: Focusing on individual roles and skills
  • Investment: Calculating intangible ROI
  • Strategy: Achieving community and global goals

Regardless of where you are on the big data journey—just starting out, on your way, or still at home—remember that hidden treasures of valuable insight abound and are waiting to be discovered in the big data archipelago. Stay tuned for our next stop - a visit to the Analytics Island, where we'll learn how to discover the unknown unknowns.


About Author

Tamara Dull

Director of Emerging Technologies

I’m the Director of Emerging Technologies on the SAS Best Practices team, a thought leadership organization at SAS. While hot topics like smart homes and self-driving cars keep me giddy, my current focus is on the Internet of Things, blockchain, big data and privacy – the hype, the reality and the journey. I jumped on the technology fast track 30 years ago, starting with Digital Equipment Corporation. Yes, this was before the internet was born and the sci-fi of yesterday became the reality of today.

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