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IMPERATIVES FOR BIG DATA LEADERSHIP: SIX QUESTIONS EVERY LEADER MUST KNOW THE ANSWER TO

If you’ve been following my posts over the last month, then you know a few things: Big data is getting bigger. And so too are the opportunities for companies that make it a priority. Are you ready to put together a plan to capitalize on them but not quite sure where – or how to start? Consider the following:

1)      What is the specific business problem you want to solve – and what data do you need to solve it? Create an unsurpassed customer experience? Increase hospital bed utilization?  Reduce stock-outs? Deliver the next chart-topper music hit? The framing of the problem points to the data you will need to solve it. You may already have much of it. More awaits. Know what you need first before you bring more data in.

2)      Is your data-driven plan scaled and framed to produce value fast?  You have only so many “change chips” to spend – and there can be many paths forward. Choose paths with global applicability, so others can use; steps that can be easily replicated; and projects that gets value fast into the hands of user.

3)      Have you checked off against your requirements for readiness? We have enumerated seven. Check off for the start against requirements for vision and plan, platform and data, people and incentives, political support, and your performance promises.

4)      Have you planned to evolve the data-driven organization?. Add tools, technologies, and talent as needed to achieve shared purposes. Shift the everyday language of discourse toward the language of data. Celebrate data-driven success. Align platforms within your organization on data-driven principles. Champion the art and science of analysis, and celebrate data-driven discovery and success.

5)      Are you prepared for success? Plan now to harvest the gain, deepen the value, and grow the support for doing business the data-driven way. Metric and measure investments, and show the return to performance and value. Use success to build new bridges and strategic collaborations. Extend the benefits of data-driven insight throughout your network; partner and expand the base of inquiry. Add functionality and applications that deepen value and build appetite for more. Assure ease of use of tools and access to insight.

6)      Gut check: are you ready to push the disruption forward? Know that neither technology nor data are silver bullets, and that the move to doing business the data-driven way can be highly disruptive. It takes time and persistence to make the transformation.

But as leading organizations who have made the leap can attest, it’s well worth the effort.

About the author
Zachary Tumin
Zachary Tumin
Special Assistant to the Director and Faculty Chair, Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University

Zach manages the Belfer Center’s project in Information and Communications Technology and directs the Harvard component of a joint Harvard-MIT initiative in cyber security. Zach’s research focuses on the strategic management of collabo... Read More >>>

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