Smart Data and the “Grand Challenge”!

By andy

Last week a key client approached me as they had a need for data analytics. “OK” I said, “Tell me more!”. Big Data came into the conversation early on and frequently thereafter.

Personally I don’t like the term Big Data – its too simplistic and misleading for many organisations. Granted, we have the means to track and store huge volumes of data, but the real value is in what we do with it. So my first question to the client was “what do you want data analytics to do for you?” Answer – we don’t know because we don’t have the data!

Perhaps many of you are scratching your heads around this dilemna.  The question I asked was – what insights will direct your actions and data requirements (i.e. what is your strategy)?

If you want to use data to deliver your business objectives and/or carve out project or programme outcomes, you need to understand what your strategic objectives are. Once you’ve defined them, identify the big questions you want answers to and that will help convert your big data to smart data.

Its the smart data that gives us focus; you concentrate on what is strategically important and discard what’s left. Next you can identify metrics to open project discussions and guide your direction, and drive better decision making.

Don’t forget – big data alone is not a silver bullet. The key is to to be able to to see the wood from the trees and identify what’s important and what isn’t! We don’t just need Big Data – we need Small and Smart Data.