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How to Beat the Curve When You're Behind in Big Data
Data management is undergoing a major shift as more and more enterprises are discovering the benefits of Big Data

Data management is undergoing a major shift as more and more enterprises are discovering the benefits of Big Data and venturing headfirst into a dynamic new era of innovation and data explosion. Today, there are more opportunities for businesses to gain insights from valuable data than ever before, but they must embrace change to do so.

Organizations across the world are embracing this change and beginning to implement Big Data programs. However, with an overwhelming array of moving pieces to consider, some remain puzzled as to where to start. Well, here's some valuable advice on beating the curve and finally gaining traction in the realm of Big Data.

Determine a Starting Point
According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), data is growing by 60 percent annually. Today's enterprises are inundated with data, easily gathering terabytes of information from social media sites, cell phone signals, sensors, online transactions, and so on. With so much information circling around you, it can be difficult understanding where to start, so it's necessary to define opportunities, have ROI projections and goals, and establish the end-goal for your organization.

Find and Discover Data
Different industries receive different kinds of data, which must be located and analyzed to enjoy the full benefits of having a big data program. A good first step is to use the data that you already have or control to validate or invalidate a hunch that you may have. With big data in your corner, you can have unparalleled access to a vast array of data streams to help you evaluate trends, choose product lines, understand consumer shopping habits, and much more.

Expect Experimentation
When venturing into the endless possibilities of big data, you must plan for variability and be prepared to unlearn some traditional data management practices. Since you will be working with new data sources and technologies, you shouldn't be surprised if you find yourself learning as you go and constantly refining your approach to gaining new market insights. Thus, your big data project will need to be staffed by individuals who understand big data and thrive in dynamic environments.

Put Together the Right Team with the Right Skills
Not long ago, database administrators, or DBAs, were the only people managing data, but there are far more hands in the data management pot today. From analytics and data management interns to data scientists and CMOs, data now touches every facet of an organization. Having the right people with the right skillsets is just as important for a big data program as having the right technologies. It's become increasingly important for organizations to have designated data scientist teams, which work directly with CIOs to help them extract as much business value from their data as possible.

Bottom Line
If you're reading this, more than likely your organization is preparing to take the big data plunge. Regardless of whether you invest in an onsite Apache Hadoop system or take advantage of advanced big data software and cloud services to mine data across the Web, it's important to understand your goals and ease your way into the vast and profitable world of big data. Once there, you'll have plenty of time to enjoy the view from atop the summit of success.

About Drew Hendricks
Drew Hendricks is a writer, as well as a tech, social media and environmental enthusiast, living in San Francisco. He is a contributing writer at Forbes, Technorati and The Huffington Post.



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