Wikibon: Big Data Success Requires A Storyteller's Touch

ATN-300InsightaaS: Wikibon is one of the Internet’s most respected sources of IT industry insight, with world-leading analysts providing perspective on storage and system research, and on software-led infrastructure, Big Data, and cloud. In this post, Wikibon principal research contributor Jeff Kelly provides a brief description of how and why CIOs need to embrace storytelling - descriptions of how Big Data initiatives contribute to important process outcomes - in order to obtain buy-in from colleagues. Kelly uses the example of the Seattle Children's Hospital, but the core message can be applied in many different contexts.

Research that InsightaaS has reviewed from Techaisle demonstrates that Big Data is often viewed as a collaborative initiative, involving business decision makers (BDMs) who are responsible for identifying key data requirements and CIOs who are responsible for collecting/managing the data. Analytics, on the other hand, is viewed as a BDM issue, with CIOs playing only a supporting role in technology deployment/management. Kelly's guidance suggests that CIOs can be more effective across the solution areas by connecting the technical requirements with the business outcomes, and working with BDMs to help bring the benefits of Big Data to life.

Wikibon’s recent Big Data analytics survey revealed several challenges practitioners face as they strive to gain actionable insights from their data. Many of these are technology related such as maintaining application performance and and integrating multiple data sources. But survey respondents also detailed some of the top non-technology related barriers to Big Data success. Among the top: selling the value of Big Data analytics to end-users.

This is a critical inhibitor and has a direct impact on Big Data ROI. For all the talk of the technologies involved in making Big Data analytics possible, all the technology in the world isn’t going to move the needle on sales, revenue, profit or any other metric if end-users don’t use the results of Big Data projects. This means business users leveraging data visualization tools to get a more accurate view of the business and insights about next-best-actions and then integrating these insights into their existing business processes and decision-making practices.

Put another way, people are often afraid of change. In business, this means people often prefer to continue making decisions the way they have for decades rather than disrupt their methods with a new way of operating. To overcome this barrier and spur adoption of data-driven decision making (powered by Big Data analytics that is often abstracted away from the end-user), Big Data practitioners must become data story tellers.

Consider the case of Seattle Children’s Hospital, which is actually three institutions in one...

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