The First Rule Of Big Data — Don't Talk About Big Data

I’ll be chairing Big Data World Europe on September 19 in London; in advance of that event, here are a few thoughts.

Since late 2011, we’ve seen the big data noise level eclipse cloud and even BYOD, and we are seeing the backlash too (see Death By Big Data, to which I tweeted, “Yes, I suppose, ‘too much of anything is a bad thing’”). The number one thing clients want to know is, “What is my competition doing? Give me examples I can talk to my business about.” These questions reflect a curiosity on the part of IT and a “peeking under the hood to see what’s there” attitude.

My advice is to start the big data journey with your feet on the ground and your head around what it really is. Here are some “rules” I’ve been using with folks I talk to:

First rule of big data: don’t talk about big data. The old adage holds true here — those that can do big data do it, those that can’t talk <yup, I see the irony :-)>. I was on the phone with a VP of analytics who reflected that her IT people were constantly bringing new technologies to them like a dog with a bone. Her general reaction is, show me the bottom-line value. So what to do? Instead of talking to your business about big data, find ways to solve problems more affordably with data at greater scale. Now that’s “doing big data.”

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Key Questions To Ask Yourself Before Embarking On A Big Data Journey

Do you think you are ready to tackle Big Data because you are pushing the limits of your data Volume, Velocity, Variety and Variability? Take a deep breath (and maybe a cold shower) before you plunge full speed ahead into unchartered territories and murky waters of Big Data. Now that you are calm, cool and collected, ask yourself the following key questions:

  • What’s the business use case? What are some of the business pain points, challenges and opportunities you are trying to address with Big Data? Are your business users coming to you with such requests or are you in the doomed-for-failure realm of technology looking for a solution?
  • Are you sure it’s not just BI 101Once you identify specific business requirements, ask whether Big Data is really the answer you are looking for. In the majority of my Big Data client inquiries, after a few probing questions I typically find out that it's really BI 101: data governance, data integration, data modeling and architecture, org structures, responsibilities, budgets, priorities, etc. Not Big Data.
  • Why can’t your current environment handle it? Next comes another sanity check. If you are still thinking you are dealing with Big Data challenges, are you sure you need to do something different, technology-wise? Are you really sure your existing ETL/DW/BI/Advanced Analytics environment can't address the pain points in question? Would just adding another node, another server, more memory (if these are all within your acceptable budget ranges) do the trick?
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Identity Protocol Gut Check

Protocol gut check. That's how someone recently described some research I've got under way for a report we're calling the "TechRadar™ for Security Pros: Zero Trust Identity Standards," wherein we'll assess the business value-add of more than a dozen identity-related standards and open protocols. But it's also a great name for an episode of angst that recently hit the IAM blogging world, beginning with Eran Hammer's public declaration that OAuth 2.0 -- for which he served as a spec editor -- is "bad."

As you might imagine, our TechRadar examination will include OAuth; I take a lot of inquiries and briefings in which it figures prominently, and I've been bullish on it for a long time. In this post, I'd like to share some thoughts on this episode with respect to OAuth 2.0's value to security and risk pros. As always, if you have further thoughts, please share them with me in the comments or on Twitter.

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If A Picture Paints A Thousand Words, Maps Are Just Off The Charts!

I’ve always been a map person with maps showing up in my house as floor rugs, shower curtains, clothing, dishes, jigsaw puzzles etc.  So the ESRI User Conference was right up my alley. 

With the explosion of data (and interest in data), organizations are desperate for ways to organize, visualize and better leverage it.  Maps are a perfect way to make data real, and the stats on ESRI’s conference show it.  The role of “geographical information system” (GIS) professional is thriving.  The event organizers registered 14,922 attendees by mid-week, with over 15,000 expected by the end of the week-long event.  Attendees represented 126 countries, US representation being largest, but the rest of the top ten including Canada, Japan, Germany, the UK, Australia, South Korea, Mexico, Norway and South Africa.   Of the 36 industries represented, most were public sector including state and local government, defense and intelligence and federal government.  But interesting examples were provided across retail – e.g. the use of traffic and demographic data to evaluate and compare alternative retail locations – and other commercial sectors.   The list of use cases was impressive – with lofty uses such as planning for the future, preserving resources, and exploration to more down-to-earth examples such as building management, urban planning and law enforcement.  In most cases, where there is data, there could be a map to show it, and help understand it better. 

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Forrester Wave For Master Data Management — Enterprise, Big Data, Data Governance

As the new analyst on the block at Forrester, the first question everyone is asking is, “What research do you have planned?” Just to show that I’m up for the task, rather than keeping it simple with a thoughtful report on data quality best practices or a maturity assessment on data management, I thought I’d go for broke and dive into the master data management (MDM) landscape. Some might call me crazy, but this is more than just the adrenaline rush that comes from doing such a project. In over 20 inquiries with clients in the past month, questions show increased sophistication in how managing master data can strategically contribute to the business.

What do I mean by this?

Number 1: Clients want to know how to bring together transitional data (structured) and content (semi-structured and unstructured) to understand the customer experience, improve customer engagement, and maximize the value of the customer. Understanding customer touch points across social media, e-commerce, customer service, and content consumption provides a single customer view that lets you customize your interactions and be highly relevant to your customer. MDM is at the heart of bringing this view together.

Number 2: Clients have begun to analyze big data within side projects as a way to identify opportunities for the business. This intelligence has reached the point that clients are now exploring how to distribute and operationalize these insights throughout the organization. MDM is the point that will align discoveries within the governance of master data for context and use.

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TechnoPolitics Podcast: Big Data Is Value At Extreme Scale

Big Data is about handling extremes, cost effectively. But, what it means to be "big" is an upwardly moving target. In this episode of TechnoPolitics, Mike Gualtieri speaks with Forrester Principal Analyst Brian Hopkins about big data. Brian covers emerging technology and its impact on business and IT. 

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Next Episode - Windows 8: Bold Move Or Catch-Up?

Be sure to catch the next episode of TechnoPolitics to hear Forrester Vice President Frank Gillett's analysis of what Windows 8 means to Microsoft, consumers, and businesses. Frank's analysis of Microsoft Windows 8 will blow your mind. Microsoft is faced with its biggest challenge ever. Is Windows 8 the answer, a first step on the path, or will it fall flat?

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HP Vs. Oracle – Despite Verdict In Favor Of HP, The End Is Not Yet In Sight

This week the California courts handed down a nice present for HP — a verdict confirming that Oracle was required to continue to deliver its software on HP’s Itanium-based Integrity servers. This was a major victory for HP, on the face of it giving them the prize they sought — continued availability of Oracle’s eponymous database on their high-end systems.

However, HP’s customers should not immediately assume that everything has returned to a “status quo ante.” Once Humpty Dumpty has fallen off the wall it is very difficult to put the pieces together again. As I see it, there are still three major elephants in the room that HP users must acknowledge before they make any decisions:

  • Oracle will appeal, and there is no guarantee of the outcome. The verdict could be upheld or it could be reversed. If it is upheld, then that represents a further delay in the start date from which Oracle will be measured for its compliance with the court ordered development. Oracle will also continue to press its counterclaims against HP, but those do not directly relate to the continued development or Oracle software on Itanium.
  • Itanium is still nearing the end of its road map. A reasonable interpretation of the road map tea leaves that have been exposed puts the final Itanium release at about 2015 unless Intel decides to artificially split Kittson into two separate releases. Integrity customers must take this into account as they buy into the architecture in the last few years of Itanium’s life, although HP can be depended on to offer high-quality support for a decade after the last Itanium CPU rolls off Intel’s fab lines. HP has declared its intention to produce Integrity-level x86 systems, but OS support intentions are currently stated as Linux and Windows, not HP-UX.
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SAP Seeks Director Of Pricing & Licensing - My Alternative Job Description

SAP is advertising for a new Director Of Pricing & Licensing. The job description states “The Strategic Pricing Director is a key member of SAP’s Revenue Strategy and Pricing Group. Pricing is a critical component of SAP’s overall strategy and go-to-market activities.” Duties include:

·         Develop and implement pricing strategies based on economic and competitive dynamics.

·         Price products and services appropriately based on the value customers receive.

·         Define and drive pricing strategy for new and/or existing solutions.

IMO, SAP does many things very well in the pricing and licensing domain. I cite it to other publishers as an exemplar of best practices in a couple of areas, such as its pricing by user category, use of business metrics for parts of the suite that deliver value independent of manual use, and tying maintenance volume discounts to conditions such as centers of excellence that filter out users’ basic support calls. However, SAP does have room for improvement, in terms of Forrester’s five qualities of good software pricing, namely that it should be value-based, simple, fair, future-proof, and published.

Considering those goals, and as an advocate for software buyers, here are some things that I’d like SAP to add to the job description:

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TechnoPolitics Podcast: BYOD Explained By Christian Kane!

BYOD (bring your own device) is a momentum torpedo.

Younger workers at the bottom and executives at the top of businesses assert their desire (they think it is a right) to use their own smartphones, tablets, and laptops instead of company-issued hardware. In this episode of Forrester TechnoPolitics, Mike Gualtieri interviews Forrester Analyst Christian Kane about the future of BYOD.

  • The what and why of BYOD?
  • What are the hazards of BYOD?
  • Is BYOD a trend that has legs?
  • Bonus: A Cambridge, MA, area BYOB restaurant recommendation.
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TechnoPolitics Podcast: Our Take On Google I/O & Mobile App Development

Listen to Forrester analysts Mike Gualtieri and Michael Facemire's lively discussion on this year’s Google I/O Conference, including the over-the-top Google Glass skydiving keynote emceed by none other than Sergey Brin.

  • Google I/O Conference highlights
  • Native versus HTML5: The mobile app development debate continues
  • iPhone and Android own the market now. Will Microsoft be number 3, or will Amazon surprise everyone again?
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