Everyone can say “I know what Big Data is,” but very few can claim “I understand the landscape of my organization’s Big Data resources.” Big Data is an extremely complex environment that can challenge even experienced data experts.
To properly explore your Big Data environment — i.e., to be sufficiently skilled and knowledgeable in Big Data to ask the right question to the right sets of data to obtain the desired outcome — and to be able to make your way through the vastness and intricacy of the Big Data jungle, you need the right tools in your explorer’s backpack.
The Big Data Explorer’s Toolkit
Let’s analyze the tools and skills needed, looking at this through the explorer’s lens:
- Water bottle = Data governance
Before venturing into the ever-increasing amount of data, data scientists and data analysts need the proper governance strategy in place. Organizing, cataloguing, and ordering the flow and batch of data is essential before taking any further step — just as a water bottle is critical for adventuring in a jungle.
- Sharp machete = Powerful and inclusive BI&A tool(s)
To discover hidden messages and patterns concealed behind the wall of data, data scientists and data analysts should be provided with the most powerful and appropriate tools. BI&A tools are for data experts what a machete is for explorers who venture into a forest; they can cut and break through data as a machete does through liana and seemingly impenetrable vegetation.
- Maps = Visualization tool
Once data is clean and properly organized, it is important to have an effective way to visualize it. Visualization is becoming more and more critical in this process and every company providing BI&A tools is working along this line to provide effective solutions. It is clear the analogy between proper maps and visualization tools, without them the explorer and the data expert are lost.
- Small knife = Data literacy programs
At some point of the explorer’s journey, a more delicate task has to be performed, hence the need for a smaller knife. In the same way, on the Big Data journey, scientists, analysts, and experts might face a halt in the deployment of BI&A tools, thus the need to increase knowledge around the world of data — from mere BI&A tool usage to a more holistic perspective. To cope with the needs for sharper, more detailed and delicate tasks, data literacy programs and projects come to help as the knife helps the explorer.
- First aid kit = Assistance from BI&A vendors
When personal background and the assistance of the community are not enough, vendors should have dedicated teams that look beyond customer support. As one-size/solution-fits-all is no longer the gold standard, it is crucial that vendors organize rescue/assistance squads for data experts and developers to tackle and solve specific case-to-case issues. Thus, vendors’ assistance though dedicated teams is something akin to a first aid kit with disinfectant, plasters, bandages, and painkillers that help explorers to move on in their journey after a fall.
To evaluate and benchmark your data environment, it is essential to have the right tools, people, and structure in place. People without the tools are powerless, tools without people can be useless. So it is necessary to balance people, skills and tools through the process of empowering the right people with specific skills and the right tools. When you find a bottleneck in this process, take a step back, look at which of the 5 tools are missing, retrieve it and get back to your journey. Let’s explore!