It’s been fun watching the computing world mature, from the days when mainframe computers occupied an entire operations-intensive room to the power of applications on our mobile phones. Have we finally awoken to the reality that mobile communications has caught-up with the Dick Tracy comic character and his 2-way wrist watch phone? Technology has been (as predicted!) evolving so quickly, that even professional prognosticators are merely guessing where we will be in another 10-20 years; Science Fiction has rapidly become Science Fact.
Technology & Lifestyle Morphing
Today, data intensity is enveloping our business and social worlds – from airwaves, to telephone circuits, computer cables, and mobile devices we are growing into data junkies relying on our next data fix to help us make the smallest of decisions! Our lifestyle and habits are changing radically with our dependence on technology to support our daily existence. In this new digital-centric way of life businesses that provide services and products supported by digital highways and mountains of data must pay close attention to the operation and performance of their technology infrastructure. On the other hand, consumers need to develop reasonable expectations on the value and use of the data retrieved and used. For example, do we rely completely on sourced data or attempt to balance with our lifetime of experiences and insights contained in our sensory, short and long memories?
Information is King. That was true a thousand years ago, and it is true today. It was also true that gathering information, for the purpose of making informed decisions, was and will always be the most critical success factor in almost any undertaking. Leveraging the digital environment: What has changed immeasurably today over a thousand years is the ability to find and access data. If you can access the internet from your handheld, you can access more than a thousand years’ of human learning almost instantly.
But, what do you do with it? Furthermore, how do you handle structured versus unstructured information? Can you aggregate the information as you need it? Probably not, there’s too much there. What about a web application though? There things get more interesting, because you may be able to interface with the data you want, already organized in a useful manner in a database. In effective decision making the big challenge is making sure that the data is being aggregated into actionable information and subsequently used to generate new tacit knowledge accurate, complete, and appropriate.
The astonishing acceleration of data growth and the heterogeneous character of the data mean that organizations whose IT infrastructures transport, store, secure, and replicate large amounts of data, have little choice but to employ ever more sophisticated approaches, techniques, and tools for information management, security, search, storage and database management. Add mobile into the mix and data management presents a new level of complexity for ensuring total accuracy, high level of performance and successful rendering of data and information with the different technical environments. Effective data and database management empowers business and technology executives to use current information as the basic building block of high-quality decisions.
Enterprise Data Challenges
That said, let’s talk about your corporate database and remote access. Some of your data and information is customer facing, some of it is internal-eyes only. You probably have some information that you simply don’t want accessible from a web application without VPN protection. What happens then when you have an off-site conference, sales event, or activity? And what happens when you are missing either the VPN or the internet access?
You need to give your off-site workers access to critical data in order to facilitate their decision-making processes. The ability to get the right information to the right mobile devices and mobile workers has gone from a “nice to have” to “mission critical.” We are in a whole new work environment — much different than in our grandparents’ days when the work day was 9-5 and they left work to enjoy the remainder of the day with their family. Contrast that with today’s typical executives or workers who are expected to respond quickly to after-hours calls and emails on their hand-held devices and be in a position to instantly make decisions and collaborate with colleagues!
A Typical Data Story
At a recent event on a cruise ship, it was observed that the sales staff struggling to get sales desk set up because they did not have the information they needed at hand. Customer information was missing; inventory information was missing; and the ability to connect past sales with present sales (essential for a variety of reasons) was not there. Their helplessness to process transactions on a timely basis and without correct information cost them over 6 figures in sales for the event. This is not isolated to cruise ships; outdoor events in remote locations have the same issue, no cell tower, and no internet access. Even some higher-end hotel locations may not have disabled VPN connections through their own pipelines.
There are two potential solutions to data helplessness: first, you can create the custom database access application (to your remote data) for the remote (handheld) device; second, you can put critical, selected components of the data directly on the remote device. Both cases are probably meat for a couple of additional blog entries.
Your “feet on the street” need access to the right data, right now, for two reasons: first, it maximizes sales and improves customer service and loyalty; second, if you don’t do it, your competitor will! The simple truth is that data needs to be proactively managed and accessible 24/7 if we are to reap the significant benefits from leveraging and exploiting our valuable corporate data.
In conclusion we leave all with a topical Albert Einstein quote – “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. ”
Authored by Jeffrey Garbus, President of Soaring Eagle Consultants Inc. (http://www.soaringeagle.biz/) and,
Kevin M. O’Sullivan. President of The Knowledge Compass, Inc. (http://www.knowledgecompass.com )
Traditionally, knowledge management (KM) in a business context focuses on offering organizations a pragmatic but formal approach to increase productivity, improve customer service and reduce human knowledge loss. Over the years, a library of KM ‘best practices’ have highlighted successful knowledge-focused implementations recognizable as both specialized standalone solutions and business systems embedded with KM functional components. However, these legacy applications, for the most part, have shown signs over the years of too narrow functional footprints, lack of real integration with enterprise-wide business systems, and weak and inflexible collaboration capabilities.
Current market intelligence reveals an outsized percentage of large and medium-sized companies nationwide still lack the capacity to supply employees real time access to corporate systems during their down time (scheduled and unscheduled) while working on company premises and offsite.
The hypothesis is that organizations generally amplify the intensity of their corporate operational and financial risk when employees are restricted by ‘location and time’ to access important information required to support mission-critical decisions. In the current economy where innovation and speed are critical strategic assets, the contours of industry are changing rapidly, demanding quicker, more insightful and effective decision-making during a 24-hour business cycle. To come to the point, the provision of employees with ‘any time access’ to vital corporate information and documents is viewed as a critical success factor (CSF) for maintaining or attaining competitive market or product advantage and market leadership.
KM & Mobile Context
A significant problem identified many decades ago during KM’s infancy was the seemingly lack of appropriate automation support to harvest and realize the full organizational knowledge-influenced value. The problem with a good number of KM solutions is that they require a focus on KM as a unique process or discipline. Unfortunately, it’s just not the way we work as our personal working activities usually involve being somewhat chaotic and unsystematic along with forgetting things.
Technology executives and bloggers alike recognize, appreciate, and believe that mobile devices provide a powerful new set of tools to extend the corporate reach beyond the traditional business boundaries of location and time based on the KM mobile synergy.
KM is re-emerging as a valuable approach to support the wide mass of mobile users who rely on these dynamic devices to support their business as well as personal decisions from the mundane to the complex.
Dynamic Mobile Environment
In recent years, smart phones have evolved from unsophisticated communication devices to powerful hand-held processors. Currently, they support mastery and recall a wide range of information that encases our work and social interactions. In 2009, for the first time ever, smart phones were reported to be used at a higher percentage for accessing and using content than for calls.
The integration of KM and mobile can accomplish two goals, that of making KM ubiquitous (moving away from the desktop) and that of making mobile computing useful (focusing on the user and assisting actively).
Currently, we are witnessing a rebirth of KM as a truly convenient and practical approach to personal KM with ‘widgets’ representing the new access points to fulfill our ‘just-in-time’ need for actionable information and knowledge. In summary, the intent of KM mobile is to enable people to do what they do best – access new and familiar situations and arrive at situational decisions in real time.
Knowledge in the mobile environment is created by transforming the traditional knowledge value chain into knowledge ecology. Each component within the ecology is interrelated with every other element endlessly. Knowledge creation and creativity resulting from regular use of knowledge ecology should differentiate the most innovative product development and service businesses of the future.
Within a strategic KM mobile view, organizations are involved in significant paradigm shifts from supporting sizeable investments in packaged and customized KM systems to mobile-based KM apps that make possible the real-time fusion of explicit information contained in situational mobile apps with the individual’s tacit knowledge resulting in faster and more successful decisions.
It is well understood that the best decisions are achieved by spending less time on information gathering and more on the thinking process (bringing together explicit knowledge and actionable information and combining with internal tacit knowledge).
A challenge for technology executives is keeping employees pro-actively informed of mission-critical and rapidly changing information all within a corporate control and information security approach. To address this need, companies are leveraging smart mobile devices to push critical information to employees in the field.
They send information updates (trigged by specific events or activities) to individuals and provide documents through e-mail alerts and text messages with a link to the downloadable document. Videos, presentations and audio clips are also distributed.
Given that mobile KM apps generally don’t require the employee universe to adjust their unique work habits or require significant learning curves to become proficient, they’re more likely to be accepted and used. This makes it easier for people with different roles and skill sets to use the same information in an assortment of contexts; while the same information is expected to be viewed by a larger number of people.
KM & Mobile Value Proposition
The key benefits generally realized from KM mobile use include:
• Increase relevant information and knowledge access for immediate decision-making by employees, customers, and partners.
• Facilitate collaboration and knowledge-sharing among business groups
• Retain and enrich institutional knowledge as intellectual property
• Overcome organizational and geographical boundaries to conducting business
• Shorten cycle time for mission-critical processes thereby increasing employee productivity
In conclusion I will leave all with a favorite Peter F. Drucker quote – “Knowledge has to be improved, challenged, and increased constantly, or it vanishes.”
It is estimated that over 70% of leading US businesses currently use or are planning to deploy SharePoint over the next few years, but few have formal content and information management strategies and plans in place! The introduction of SharePoint is providing many of these companies a rare opportunity to take ‘a time-out’ to formally re-examine their core business processes, fully understand and redesign ECM and knowledge-centric systems, and streamline the use of content at the convergence of customer touch points, employees, and corporate IT systems.
Knowledge Compass offers strategic and business and technical level consulting services to assist customers assess their content requirements, design, develop (or customize), and implement ECM solutions in alignment with their corporate business and technical strategies.
Over the last year, Knowledge Compass customers are increasingly selecting SharePoint for their ECM business activities throughout the enterprise in situations where they formally selected ECM point solutions.
A recent review of customer projects identifies that the majority of our SharePoint development customers believe that SharePoint will result in a more effective, efficient, and flexible business environment managed through a familiar Microsoft desktop environment and built on a trusted and extendible platform.
The three benefits reported by our customer’s business and technology leaders with the highest value from SharePoint ECM deployments include:
- Improve User ECM Acceptance & Participation
- Avoid Content Handling Risk
- Increase IT Productivity
Improve User ECM Acceptance & Participation
It is typically understood that ECM project success relies heavily on user acceptance and participation as key critical success factors (CSFs). Briefly, employees who are expected to use an ECM application within their work processes should be able to accept without reservation the new ECM solution as a practical and valuable tool that supports and not restricts their work activities.
SharePoint is a unique solution that provides genuine ECM capabilities to users where they do their content creation and collaboration – inside customized SharePoint group-centric sites that is familiar to all who have used Microsoft desktop solutions. This addresses the challenge that users will not need to learn and identify with a totally dissimilar user interface, navigation, and other content-handling activities.
Our customers report that their ECM project’s user acceptance and participation were improved significantly by SharePoint’s capabilities including:
- Uncomplicated use, integrated tools and rich capabilities to manage, find, and share mission-critical documents and information
- Straightforward to add and identify document meta data to track, find, and share documents and information throughout the enterprise
- Improve decision-making; easily find the right business document or information—regardless of who created it, what format it’s in, or where it lives.
Avoid Content Handling Risk
A dilemma facing most ECM projects is how to successfully design and implement a fully integrated enterprise governance framework that eliminates inefficiencies and waste that have been institutionalized over many years within the enterprise’s content (and information) handling policies, processes and activities.
Our customers identified the below SharePoint capabilities as having the largest impact on the successful alleviation of content-handling problems and risks.
- Information Architecture (IA): defines and categorizes SharePoint site content and format, including Web pages, documents, and lists within a formal IA; provides users a more productive work experience organized within a consistent information framework.
- Taxonomies (& Folksonomies): allows users and groups to craft and manage global and local customized Taxonomies and Folksonomies; provides improved content categorization and quicker access to required decision-making content.
- Metadata Management: supports improved refined and filtered searches for more effective and efficient navigation of SharePoint lists and document libraries content.
Increase IT Productivity
Customers are enthralled by the IT productivity improvements typically realized with use of SharePoint’s comprehensive out-of-the-box capabilities such as:
- SharePoint 2010 works seamlessly with technologies currently used including Microsoft Office, Microsoft Exchange Server, and Microsoft Unified Communications
- Use of Microsoft .NET Framework object models to reduce learning curves and development timeframes
- End user management of their own SharePoint sites without having to contact the IT Team, thus saving time and cost of software expenses.
- Integrate with legacy systems with reduced work effort and fewer difficulties generally experienced in integration activities
- Interoperability through SharePoint Business Connectivity Services provides a standardized method of accessing, displaying, and editing content in legacy system environments
- SharePoint 2010 provides a simple installation and configuration process, including a smooth upgrade from SharePoint 2007
- SharePoint’s provides our customers a pragmatic user-friendly front-end to their ECM solutions. Users and work teams can easily navigate to a recognizable SharePoint site to collaborate, innovate, create content, and make decisions.
- SharePoint allows our customers to save and redirect their centralized IT Team’s technical resources for other mission-critical enterprise developments and support activities.
A knowledge audit is a qualitative appraisal and examination of the enterprise’s knowledge ‘health’. It is about determining the knowledge (and actionable information) required to enable competitive success of the business within its targeted markets.
A knowledge audit includes assessment of the following organizational components:
1. Mission-critical knowledge assets (tacit and explicit)
2. Organizational business infrastructure
3. Knowledge-handling business processes
4. Mission-critical decisions
4. Organizational culture and learning environments
Knowledge Asset Audit Focus
A successful knowledge audit answers the following questions:
- How is knowledge defined in the organization?
- What knowledge is needed to support the business?
- Is a glut or lack of knowledge / information impacting effective and efficient decision-making?
- Where are the knowledge assets?
- What is the format and media of the knowledge assets?
- How does that knowledge flow within and outside the enterprise?
- How is knowledge captured, stored, enriched and exchanged?
- How is knowledge secured against potential loss?
- How is knowledge created in the organization?
- How do workers keep their knowledge from becoming obsolete?
Knowledge Compass Approach
The Knowledge Compass Audit approach includes the below actions:
1. Conduct holistic assessment with key stakeholders to understand the organization’s business, culture, employee universe, products and services, infrastructure and processes.
- Identify cultural underpinnings and learning points
- Determine key decisions in support of business requirements, objectives, and strategies
- Identify mission-critical knowledge requirements
2. Identify and map mission-critical knowledge flows within the organization’s business processes:
- Chart formal and informal knowledge relationships and communication networks; highlight knowledge-centric flows
- Confirm use and source of knowledge within processes at employee and customer touch points
- Identify and create inventory of mission-critical knowledge
- Identify knowledge gaps with knowledge requirements
- Assess use and value of mission-critical knowledge
- Identify knowledge obstacles and barriers
3. Formulate recommended actions to improve effectiveness and efficiency of knowledge handling processes.
The Bottom Line
A knowledge audit creates a powerful advantage for organizations who seek a competitive advantage. Benefits include development of knowledge-centric actions to stimulate improved creativity, innovation and profitability. Specifically a knowledge audit provides recommendations to:
1. Leverage and exploit corporate knowledge assets
2. Enhance and improve quality and consistency of knowledge
3. Mitigate inefficiencies and duplication of current information and knowledge processes
4. Improve worker productivity with more timely access and richness of knowledge
5. Improve strategic and tactical decision-making
The demands and challenges to improve the effectiveness of business processing are placing renewed focus on organizing and homogenizing critical business content into a structured ecosystem. In response, leading organizations are creating enterprise wide content management strategies and infrastructures focusing on people, processes, and multi-vendor technology solutions in alignment with enterprise business and technology strategies.
Microsoft’s SharePoint is gaining widespread attention and adoption as a platform capable of meeting most business workers’ desk top content handling needs. But many companies enthusiastic on the potential benefits of this exciting tool are struggling with the question of whether there is a need to supplement their SharePoint installation with a more robust and function-rich content management engine for enterprise-wide centralization, governance, and support (i.e. Documentum, File Net etc.)
How do enterprise decision-makers tackle this quandary and craft a successful content strategy and infrastructure design? One approach is to conduct an assessment with the key goal of discovering the information that supports the ‘what, why, how, where, and when’ of the organization’s current and future enterprise content handling and process-based decision-making activities.
Key enterprise content handling questions that require study and answers include:
1. Are content business and technical requirements identified, coherent, and accepted by stakeholders?
2. Are vital content systematized within a structured taxonomy, owned and managed, and accessed with a security and permissions scheme?
3. Are content vendor product capabilities, under consideration, been identified and understood?
4. Has content vendor / product selection criteria been developed?
5. Is there a business justification for employing a tiered content strategy with multiple vendors?
6. Is there an appreciation for the potential risks and changes for implementing and supporting a tiered content infrastructure?
Knowledge Compass Approach
Knowledge Compass helps clients access their content handling activities and develop a formal ECM strategy and plan with a structured and time-tested approach, as outlined below:
1. Conduct holistic review of the business environment:
- Establish current content handling policies, processes, and activities
- Identify content handling ‘points of pain’ and critical business impacts
- Identify critical decisions that require content support
2. Determine key user, functional and technical ECM requirements
3. Design or redesign content handling infrastructure:
- Evaluate with industry ECM best practices
- Identify Gaps and mitigations
4. Develop strategy: acquisition, development, integration, deployment, and support of an ECM solution
- Identify future ECM governance policies, guidelines, and procedures
5. Establish ECM strategic business case, potential risk factors and probable organizational and cultural changes
- Identify quantitative value and benefits
- Identify qualitative value and benefits
- Identify risk and exposures
- Identify change to existing infrastructure and impacts
6. Determine content acquisition, migration and population plans
7. Construct next steps and timeline
The Bottom Line
An ECM Assessment provides a consensus-based strategy and roadmap for designing, developing and implementing an integrated enterprise content management system.
Key deliverables resulting from a successful content management assessment and strategy project include:
1. Concept of Operations
- User Content Requirements
- Functional and System Content Specifications
- Redesigned Content Environment
- ECM Strategy & Governance Plan
2. ECM Blueprint
- Logical Architecture
- Information Architecture
- Content, Conversion & Migration Plan
- Implementation Plan
3. Supporting Analyses
- ROI – Return on Investment
- CDB – Cost of Doing Business Analysis
- Risk and Change Analysis
- Best Practice Gap Analysis
In the progressively more competitive and global marketplace, organizations are particularly eager to integrate, leverage, capitalize, and monetize employee knowledge and make it available when and where it is needed throughout the enterprise.
Over the last decade, interest in knowledge management (KM) has surged. Although the importance of knowledge was acknowledged in the past, the knowledge-centric view of the company brought new significance to the value of corporate knowledge by identifying it as a resource with as much importance as financial capital.
There has been a long history in addressing the KM challenge with the “technology-push” approach, directing the majority of resources and effort to customize and implement a system-based solution. Even though KM has been identified by prominent industry professionals as 80% culture and 20% technology, anecdotal studies do not support the realization of these ratios in actual implantation situations.
Though, in the current environment the focus is shifting toward adoption of a pragmatic business-centric strategy with an enterprise-wide KM program that aggressively embrace an assimilation of corporate structure, governance, people, enabling technology, and core processes. The business-centric approach supports a deliberate strategy to institutionalize KM within corporate infrastructure and culture. With fewer employees being required to perform an ever-increasing work load coupled with the unrelenting demand for higher productivity and profitability, it is critical that KM Programs are designed to function effectively and efficiently within the boundaries of a corporate infrastructure and culture. Conversely, companies that tend to lack an appreciation for total enterprise immersion will undoubtedly experience less than favorable outcomes.
Institutionalizing KM requires the identification and assessment all of internal and external knowledge touch points and their impact and potential change to the organization’s core processes and business applications.
There are two distinctive models used to categorizing the KM Program namely, Codification and Personalization. Selection of one or a balanced combination of the two models provides the starting point and impetus in creating a KM Program Strategy.
The deployment of new knowledge-centric work activities typically requires changes and adjustments to the corporate culture, primarily with knowledge discovery, sharing, security, and monetization. These corporate culture elements are generally encapsulated in HR, Salary, Incentive Admin, and Sales policies.
Codification and Personalization
Codification and Personalization are often linked to the distinction between explicit and tacit knowledge that are the key pillars of a KM Program. They typically observe the below conventions:
- Codification is a system-based model for connecting systems and people primarily to explicit knowledge.
- Personalization focuses on a socialization framework with an approach that enables employees to share and collaborate tacit knowledge.
Companies that select Codification generally invest more heavily in a system-based KM Program while those selecting Personalization spend more moderately on the system, choosing to place priority on employee and group interaction and collaboration.
Corporate Infrastructure, Culture and Change Management
Institutionalization is all about inclusion, balance and correlation of KM within the corporate infrastructure and culture. Throughout a KM Project resourceful new structures and activities along with changes to existing infrastructure are identified, quantified, and prioritized for implementation. In both cases – individual employee and group work efforts result in change to existing employee attitudes, manifesting in acceptance or non-acceptance of the KM Program and / or specific components. Change Management is the tool of choice for most companies to drive positive KM policy changes and provide awareness and support to the employee population and a successful KM Program.
The relationships in a KM Program implementation among Corporate Infrastructure, Culture and Change Management are as follows:
1. KM Program components approved for implementation are accepted for:
- Inclusion, balance and correlation with corporate infrastructure
- Positive quantitative, qualitative and risk impact on corporate infrastructure
- Alignment and support of current corporate strategy and policies
2. KM Program is supported by Change Management to:
- Drive appropriate changes to corporate policy and policies in situations where KM is shown to be the better choice on quantitative, and qualitative value points and risk exposures
- Provide employee change management exercises, awareness, and incentives for supporting acceptance and successful deployment of the KM Program
As a general rule KM institutionalization begins with the adoption of practices that supports or aligns with the corporate strategy. KM Programs are composed of an array of diverse components that include: KM strategy (including goals, and objectives), employees, corporate culture, core business processes, and enabling technology.
In order to obtain and/or maintain KM alignment with corporate culture situations will occur where either the corporate cultures will need to be changed or augmented to meet changes occurring within and externally to the organization.
Through the course of KM institutionalization, there is an increasing legitimacy, and / or a general consensus that certain actions are desirable or appropriate within a socially constructed program.
Corporate culture is the workplace environment formulated from the interaction of all employees in the workplace universe. It is defined by all of the life experiences, strengths, weaknesses, education, upbringing, and so forth of the employee universe. While executives play a large role in defining organizational culture by their actions and leadership, all other employees contribute to the culture by their individual and group behaviors and actions. There is a predisposition by many planning a KM Program to take only a cursory look at the impact of KM on corporate culture.
A KM Program should be totally supportive of the corporate culture for promoting a positive knowledge-centric community. This includes:
- Knowledge Harvesting
- Knowledge Sharing
- Continuous Learning
- Developing & Enriching Knowledge Assets
People will often pursue a group trend and conform to the behaviors of others within the workplace. The KM Program needs to obtain a critical mass of users onto the system and others would follow.
In this regard, the company should have in place the policies and tools to ensure that KM is correctly aligned with employee incentives so as to promote a proactive knowledge sharing culture. KM is all about cultural change and therefore should focus on behavioral changes directed towards creating a working environment where knowledge is seen as a common good and where employees are encouraged to contribute to knowledge activities as part of their role’s responsibilities. For this to succeed, employees will need to be empowered and fully participate in the implementation of the Program.
It is well-known that perhaps the greatest blockade to knowledge sharing is dysfunctional employee behavior and traditional organizational culture. Certainly KM practices depends on a high level of goodwill and trust. Knowledge sharing might be viewed as an unnatural act. If knowledge is so valuable why would anyone want to give it away?
Revisiting and updating the HR Strategy with a KM-centric focus will provide the necessary instruments to ensure positive employee behaviors in handling knowledge. It is important to all employees to understand and appreciate what their organization is trying to do and where it is going. After that, they are interested in personal achievements and responsibility. Employees often expect continuous learning and training. Above all, they demand respect, not so much for themselves but for their investment and use of their domain knowledge and experience.
KM is deep-rooted in the need for a modification in an organization’s culture and a fundamental re-thinking of the way that it operates. The success of a KM generally depends on the adoption among the employee population of new attitudes and behaviors, an activity that requires commitment, dedication and, above all, patience by those charged with driving and supporting the KM project. It is no exaggeration to say that the majority of KM initiatives that fail do so because they ignore to take the change-management aspects of the discipline serious.
Change Management’s key goal is to enable improved productivity and profitability. The ability to manage that change effectively is a critical success factor to the ongoing success of a KM Program. It is a truism that companies that fail to address the change concerns and problems that underpin KM will find the implementation quickly becoming an added, unwanted activity that employees are more than happy to ignore than accept.
Ever-increasing requirements and capabilities to process gigantic quantities of business and social media data are influencing notable changes in information technology and business environments. This phenomenon is being described by industry professionals as Big Data and it is influencing product development, market and consumer segmentation, and promotional activities. Big Data is undoubtedly both an opportunity and a threat as the amount of online data is significantly increasing and the tools to manage and manipulate data growing expeditiously within the business and social media segments. Recent market research states that data is doubling every 18 months!
Big Data Definition
What is Big Data? The term describes the tools, processes and procedures enabling an organization to effectively, efficiently, and with flexibility create, manipulate, and manage large data sets and storage facilities. This includes terabytes, petabytes, exabytes, and zettabytes collections of data. Big Data is data generated from customer transactions and obtained from external research and data base providers that is growing so large that it is awkward and problematic to use with conventional data management approaches and tools.
The Big Data approach has been a valuable and evolving customized tool set over recent years among large credit card, communications, retail, and financial companies. For example, businesses like Amazon, EBay, AT&T, Capital One, Google, and VISA successfully manage huge databases that they mine for competitive advantage.
Big Data in most organizations can be compared to an ‘iceberg’ – frozen and somewhat underwater! The frozen state represents traditional corporate format and use standards that make it difficult to flow data throughout the organization. Data is considered underwater when for reasons of privacy, competitiveness, and / or incompetence data is hidden, off-limits and not totally shared with the employee universe.
A Big Data strategy typically includes: identifaction, adoption, and implementation of a technical solution set and; policies on the format and use of the corporate data. Development of a Big Data strategy generally begins at the point where executives get involved with problems associated with the technologies and approaches used to drive and manage their large enterprise data sets.
Big Data and SMB Market
Big Data analytics is no longer just on the radar screen of the Fortune level companies. Increasingly, Big Data and cloud computing in tandem is becoming attractive to small and medium business (SMB) companies. For these companies this technical combo provides high-level competitive capabilities to leverage the la carte economics of elastic computing and adopt a cost-effective Big Data approach to grow existing business and / or discover new product and market opportunities. Because cloud computing removes an upfront investment requirement for purchase of a costly infrastructure, SMB companies no longer face a significant financial barrier for creation of a Big Data strategy and implementation of an appropriate technical solution.
Big Data and Litigation
Attorneys and their clients increasingly face the dilemma of how to efficaciously conduct searches for relevant documents in large heterogeneous digital data sets, for the purpose of responding to court-order requests. Recent litigation experiences show that companies are being required by law to store large masses of content and documents, Email messages and other forms of electronic communication that may be necessary if they face litigation.
The unprecedented size, scale, and complexity of digital stored data now subject to routine capture present organizations with potential exposures ensuing from the failure to submit requested documents in full and on time to the court to avoid sanctions.
Big Data Technologies
Big Data is having a direct impact on web, cloud, enterprise, mobile platforms as many technology vendors are developing solutions to enable optimum management of large sets of data. The noteworthy Big Data challenges and requirements support the industry belief that no single technology will provide a silver bullet solution. Instead an array of technologies that are each focused on meeting specific set of requirements are improving our ability to manage data at scale. Emerging Big Data technologies and the high rate of their acceptance and use are testing conventional business models and strategies.