Essential Guide

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Structuring a big data strategy

Large and complex data stores are poised to become the new currency for large organizations if managers can cut through the noise and deliver quality business insights.


Gain valuable customer insights. Predict the future. Create new business opportunities. Big data holds these promises and more, but IT executives first need to formulate a clear business case and execution strategy. Without those elements in place, any effort put forth to gather, classify, analyze and ultimately act on data might be for naught. 

This essential guide prepares business and IT executives for success by showing how their peers have made the business case for big data and rolled out a big data strategy in their organizations. Learn the tools, technologies and strategies used to turn big data into big business insights.

1Big data benefits and pitfalls-

Making a business case for big data: The why and the how

In this section, IT executives will learn how to make a business case for big data and gain insight into some of the drawbacks of big data technology.


Squeeze big value out of big data

Harvey Koeppel, a former CIO and president of consultancy Pictographics Inc., describes the burgeoning era of big data computing and offers five tips that will help businesses turn big data into big value. One key to creating a successful big data strategy is making sure that governance processes integrate seamlessly with business objectives. Continue Reading


Companies plan big spending on big data

A survey from the Economist Intelligence Unit sheds light on the growing demand for big data technology, while another survey by Avanade highlights the growing importance of data-driven decision making. Continue Reading


Big data analytics functions like predictive BI on steroids

Reporter Beth Stackpole explains how big data analytics allows businesses to comb through the minutiae in myriad data sources to model trends and uncover unknown variables that can have a huge impact on advancing strategy, boosting efficiency and reducing costs. Continue Reading


Crafting a big data strategy: Gartner breaks it down

Organizations considering an investment in big data technology will likely also need to invest in big data skills. At the same time, they need to remember the importance of information governance and close alignment between business and IT, according to analyst firm Gartner Inc. Continue Reading


Cross-functional talent key to building successful data science teams

Organizations investing in big data skills should know that just one data scientist may not be enough. Most large companies will find that effective data science requires a team of professionals with varying, complementary skills. Continue Reading


Superstar statistician Nate Silver weighs in on Bayes' Theorem

Bigger, richer and more complex data sets may lead to new business insights, but they can also lead to false positives and bias, according to Nate Silver, a statistician who gained fame after using big data to correctly predict the outcome of the 2012 presidential election. In this article, Silver explains three Bayesian principles that can help organizations get to the truth of information. Continue Reading


Wikibon analyst predicts explosive big data market growth

While new to many people, big data technologies like Hadoop, NoSQL and in-memory analytic engines have gained greater use and some maturity of late, according to Jeff Kelly, lead big data analyst at Wikibon. In this interview, Kelly explains why his firm is predicting that the market for big data technology will exceed $47 billion by 2017. Continue Reading

2Videos -

Big data strategy: A video tutorial

Watch these video interviews with well-known data management consultants and big data technology users to find out how they ensure big data success over the long haul.


Advice on getting started with big data analytics

William McKnight, president of McKnight Consulting Group in Plano, Texas, offers his definition of big data and talks about the challenges associated with managing a big data deployment. McKnight says traditional BI and analytics software simply won't cut it when it comes to ultra-large and complex data stores.


In healthcare IT, emphasis is on data science

The biggest risk businesses face these days is a lack of IT talent, according to Cynthia Nustad, CIO at HMS Holding Corp. Nustad, whose company offers healthcare cost-containment solutions, is on the hunt for big data scientists and people with programming, data mapping, business analytics and communication skills. In this video, Nustad talks with SearchCIO Editorial Director Christina Torode about how technology is revolutionizing the healthcare space and what HMS hopes to get out of big data.


Data scientists add business value, but only in the right cases

Data management consultant Shawn Rogers talks about the rise of the data scientist. According to Rogers, the exact definition of data scientist varies by company, and the industry does not wholly accept the term. But that doesn't stop the term from appearing in plenty of job advertisements these days.


The future of business intelligence: How CIOs can stay one step ahead

What are today's IT leaders thinking about next-generation business intelligence? This video captures a panel of experts trying to put their fingers on exactly what IT leaders are thinking about next-generation business intelligence. The panel consisted of Michelle Garvey, global CIO at The Warnaco Group Inc.; Larry Bolick, CIO at Aquent LLC; Avi Saha, vice president at Automatic Data Processing Inc.; and Chris Wysopal, CTO at Veracode Inc.


Organizations must shift focus to big data analytics

Colin White, president and founder of BI Research, thinks organizations are spending too much time focusing on big data management and not enough time on big data analytics, the processes and technologies that actually produce business benefits. "The data management piece is important, but what's of equal if not more importance is the analytics," said White. "It's what you do with the data that matters."


The power of data analytics in building agility and value

In this video, Mojgan Lefebvre, CIO of insurance giant Liberty Mutual's Global Specialty, explains her belief that there are five ways to create business value: the right IT roadmap, governance, an agile IT structure, an IT team that understands the business it's in and a federated IT organization. She also talks about how her company is exploiting the power of data analytics.


Big data tools can deliver real results, Sears CTO says

Phil Shelley, CTO at Sears Holding Corp., talks about the importance of collecting and analyzing data to discover value that may have previously been hidden. While big data technologies hold a great deal of promise, Shelley says it's important to keep a cool head, avoid getting wrapped up in the hype and focus on pain points when building a business case.

3Big data tools-

The technology that backs the business plan

The key to launching and maintaining a successful big data strategy is aligning the goals of the initiative with the goals of the business. Once those goals are fully understood, it's time to find the technology that supports the plan. This section provides readers with information on the tools and technologies that build the big data ecosystem.


When planning a big data architecture consider these four factors

Learn the most important issues to keep in mind when enhancing an existing IT infrastructure to accommodate a big data architecture. Begin by getting a feel for the big picture and determine exactly what new data requirements entail. Continue Reading


Got Hadoop? Four factors to weigh prior to deployment

The terms big data and Apache Hadoop are almost synonymous because Hadoop, Apache's open source distributed processing system, can quickly and easily digest and process large and complex data sets. It's cheap and scalable, to boot. Be sure to keep the advice found in this article in mind before going live with Hadoop. Continue Reading


AltEgo brings online avatars to life with in-memory database caching

Big data may almost be synonymous with Hadoop, but other tools such as NoSQL database and in-memory technologies may also fall under the big data umbrella. In this article, read how AltEgo, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based avatar technology and game developer, is using in-memory database caching technology to help users manage their online identities. Continue Reading


Data mining: The benefits and the challenges

Find out why some hardware-based solutions to data-mining challenges have fallen short, and get a feel for what it took to launch big data infrastructures at Harvard University, The Broad Institute (of human genome fame) and pharmaceutical giant Pfizer. Continue Reading


Get to know the Hadoop ecosystem

Get to know some of the open source tools that work in conjunction with the Hadoop Distributed File System. They've got great names like MapReduce, Hive, Pig and Mahout, which is the Indian word for elephant driver. In this article, reporter Jack Vaughan takes a look at YARN, Hbase, AJAX and more. Continue Reading


The effect of big data on data warehousing

Dean Wynkoop, the director of data science at Cabela's Inc., tells SearchCIO Senior News Writer Nicole Laskowski about the challenges associated with getting the most out of clickstream data and a big data infrastructure. The hard truth is that, sometimes, tradeoffs have to be made. Continue Reading


Big data should be a major focus for SQL Server DBAs

Microsoft SQL Server database administrators will need to get a feel for the mainstay database management platform's big data connectors and related functionality to be effective in the future, according to Mark Kromer, a national platform architect at Microsoft. Continue Reading


Key big data terms to remember

Arm yourself with the key terminology associated with big data strategy and technology initiatives.

5Big data strategies at work-

PayPal chief scientist on cracking the code for big data analytics

Now that you've established a strong base for your big data strategy and initiatives, it's time to find out how your peers have implemented these technologies. Learn how to move forward with a big data program from real-world technology and business professionals who are making it happen today.


Big data is PayPal's prized currency, data scientist says

Mok Oh, the former chief data scientist for PayPal, had a simple job -- if you think extracting the psychological underpinnings behind insanely large sets of transactional data is simple. In this interview, Oh talks about how he used big data technologies to better understand the human subconscious. Continue Reading


Achieving big data success takes more than just technology

Organizations mulling a big data initiative should forget the hype, come up with a solid business case and put the right team together. This article highlights two companies that are achieving big data success. One is using Hadoop while the other is using the NoSQL database MongoDB. Continue Reading


Smarten up your big data with semantic technology

David Saul, State Street Corp. chief scientist, offers a primer on semantic technology. He discusses the challenges and tradeoffs of getting a semantic database off the ground and describes how semantic technology can produce major benefits for companies that adhere to standards. Continue Reading


Secrets to big data analytics success from IT and BI pros

Find out what it took to launch big data strategies at ComScore Inc., a company that tracks and measures the behavior of Internet users, and LinkShare, which offers a variety of marketing services to online advertisers and publishers. Continue Reading


Land O' Lakes takes on nonpristine data sets

There could a wealth of useful information hiding in data sets that contain errors, according to IT analysts and technology users. In this case study, find out how Land O' Lakes is using this so-called dirty data to enhance the bottom line. "Big data has given us the opportunity -- and the need -- to start thinking in new ways," said Land O' Lakes CIO Barry Libenson. Continue Reading


Big data analytics already the norm for some companies

Big data technologies are already old hat for the team at social networking site In this interview, SearchBusinessAnalytics talks to the company's CIO, Johann Schleier-Smith, about his company's successes and struggles with big data analytics. Continue Reading


Big data takes on new life at

Scott Sorensen, senior vice president of engineering at genealogy site, talks about his company's autosomal DNA test service, which launched in May 2012 and uses massively parallel processing technology to compare genome sequences and other genetic information. "We have to have massive storage technology to store 4 petabytes of content," Sorensen said. Continue Reading

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