Big data and the project mentality

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Is big data becoming too big to ignore? An increasing number of organizations seem to think so. As on ReadWriteWeb writes:

According to a recent Gartner report, 64% of enterprises surveyed indicate that they're deploying or planning Big Data projects (emphasis mine). Yet even more acknowledge that they still don't know what to do with Big Data. Have the inmates officially taken over the Big Data asylum?

That's a big jump (64% in 2013 compared to 58% in 2012), and it reflects a growing confidence that Big Data can help to enhance the customer experience (54% cited this as their driving motivation), improve process efficiency (42%) and launch new products or business models (39%).

So, slowly but surely, big data is making inroads in the enterprise.

The mistake of project thinking

The numbers are clearly trending upward, but does anyone else have a problem with considering big data a project? I do.

This project mentality is quite pernicious. By contrast, traditional ERP, CRM and data warehousing projects could be thought of in more linear fashions. In most cases, organizations attempted to aggregate their data, turn on a new system and then report on it. Note that data from these endeavors was largely internal to the enterprise, unlike many forms of big data: social data, open data, linked data, etc. These endeavors tended to be more predictable. I'd consider them more project-like, even though, as I wrote in Why New Systems Fail, most IT projects failed.

Simon says

Do you think that Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Netflix and Twitter do? Neither do I. It's part of their DNA.

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About Author

Phil Simon

Author, Speaker, and Professor

Phil Simon is a keynote speaker and recognized technology expert. He is the award-winning author of eight management books, most recently Analytics: The Agile Way. He consults organizations on matters related to strategy, data, analytics, and technology. His contributions have appeared in The Harvard Business Review, CNN, Wired, The New York Times, and many other sites. He teaches information systems and analytics at Arizona State University's W. P. Carey School of Business (Department of Information Systems). He also runs 5marbles, an Agile software-development shop.

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