Change Management is Critical to the Success of Big Data Initiatives

Every day, we hear of a new success story related to Big Data. Yet, there could be even more success stories. Gartner Research has predicted that through 2017, 60 percent of Big Data projects will fail to go beyond piloting and experimentation and will be abandoned. According to Lisa Kart, research director at Gartner, “…a successful advanced analytics strategy is about more than simply acquiring the right tools. It’s also important to change mindsets and culture, and to be creative in search of success.”

Big Data projects are designed to enable the business to leverage more of the data (both unstructured and structured) that is available. However, while the project’s stated goal is to drive true business value, oftentimes, the “behavior” of project team members suggests that they are simply focused on implementing the technologies associated with Big Data. Overlooked is the business goal of turning “data” into “information” and enabling and empowering employees to maximize the business value of this information.

Organizations need to explicitly focus more on the people and organizational considerations of their Big Data initiatives. As you’re working to implement a Big Data solution, you need to identify and implement changes to the way your business users work in order to leverage this new information as efficiently and effectively as possible. To accomplish this goal, change management should be incorporated into your Big Data initiatives.

Think of it this way – in a stereotypical ERP initiative, the new system makes new reports and new information widely available. From a reporting / information perspective, Big Data is like ERP on steroids – it makes huge amounts of information easily available to your user community.

But, the fact that there’s lots of information easily available doesn’t mean that the community knows what to do with it or how to use it most effectively. Change management will help you help your users understand what the information is and how to use the tools to organize it in ways that can help them extract new insights and information.

You’ll also need to help the business understand how to make decisions based on the new information available. Given the goal of getting business value from the new information, the organization needs to be able to act on the information. It’s probable that you’ll need to redefine your governance policies and give people new authority – to make decisions based on the new information. Change management should be leveraged to clarify changes to your governance as well as ensure that the people you’re expecting to make decisions based on the data understand this (often new) part of their role and that they have the skills to do so.

View your Big Data projects not through the lens of the data, but through the eyes of the business people who will be using the information derived from that data to make business decisions.

If you would like to know more about how your organization can improve the success rate of your transformational initiatives, join me for my upcoming webinar on October 13.

This post originally appeared on the Strategic Computing blog at http://blog.scicomputing.com/so-youre-going-to-implement-big-data/.

Steve Mollen is an Account Executive at GTRI.