Data has become pervasive in our daily lives. Whenever we check our smartphones or interact on a social media network, we are getting informed and take decisions based on user-generated and other type of data insights that are delivered to us by companies like Facebook, Apple and Google.


Organizations in other industries also envision new possibilities for their own business. They realize the potential that data can bring to improve their business processes, better predict the future or provide a better experience to their customers.


Yet, unlike technology companies that have the skills in-house to leverage big data, many organizations don’t know how to get started. In fact, building a big data capability can be very hard. Organizations run the risk of making large investments with poor business outcomes.


We suggest a simple six steps approach when it comes to building your Big Data strategy.


1 – Identify the Business Problem

Based on your industry, a Big Data environment can help you address many use cases and solve complex problems. Pick your battle and identify the Use Cases that you can measure.

Questions: What is my organization trying to achieve that data can help me solve? Do I have the data in-house or should I acquire it? What would be the effort to get there?


2 – Develop your individual Big Data Roadmap

Your roadmap should be focused on the business value Big Data can bring, your priorities and technical requirements.  

Questions: What are my business priorities? What are the “Quick Wins” I can reach in 90 days? What are the longer-term “Big Hits” that require a bigger investment?


3 – Analyze your existing environment and identify the right technology

It’s time to think about your high-level architecture you will need to set up to address your use cases. Look at your current environment and assess your readiness: maybe you have already most of the pieces in place.

Questions: How my business processes will be impacted? What are the technical gaps in my infrastructure? Are there any technological dependencies I need to consider?


4 – Start smart and turn plans into action

Now that you have a solid value proposition, you need to get the buy-in from your constituents. We suggest focusing on one or two specific use cases. Build a prototype and showcase the value to your organization.

Questions: What are the costs to set up this new infrastructure? Is my organization ready for Big Data? Are there any potential roadblocks in the horizon?


5 – Plan to scale

At this stage, you have convinced your organization that it needed to invest in Big Data. You need to get into more technical details of your final architecture and address other questions like privacy concerns, data governance issues and people’s skills requirements.

Question: Do I want to develop the skills in-house or do I want to outsource them? Do I need to integrate third-party data sources into my environment? Are there any organizational changes needed?


6 – Execute

A close collaboration between your business and IT teams is critical at this stage. The Big Data roadmap that you have outlined should help you execute without too many hurdles.

Question: Am I using the right skills at the right time? Do I have a solid feedback and iteration process in place? How am I measuring success?


As you are staring your journey to implement a Big Data environment, remember that less is more: you should focus on a few use cases you’d like to achieve and plan accordingly. It will be important to surround yourself with people that have the experience and skills to turn your idea into a vision, and your vision into a successful outcome.

To get more details on this approach, you can read Markus Tempel’s blog.

SAP Services can help you define and execute your Big Data strategy throughout your journey. To get more information please visit us on: http://www.sap.com/bigdataservices

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