Big data must be considered in the context of the enterprise data and analytics environment, which we think of as an ecosystem: capturing and creating data, cleansing and organizing it, mining business insights from it, and using those insights to drive intelligent actions in the business. By feeding data that measure the outcomes of these actions back into the system, a closed loop is created that allows companies to use their data to test, learn, and improve their processes.

The diagram below depicts three broad domains of the ecosystem: data, insight, and action.

Data capabilities are responsible for creating and managing usable, high quality enterprise information assets. These include all standard data-management capabilities, such as data sourcing and integration; quality and metadata management; data modeling; and data governance. Insight capabilities include tools, data, and processes for management reporting and advanced analytics. Action capabilities provision data and business intelligence to applications, business processes, and business partners, and capture responses to interactions.

Big data presents opportunities and challenges in each of these domains. Data management leverages big-data technology to eliminate redundancy and provide scalable infrastructure for managing big-data assets. Insight uses appliances and accelerators, NOSQL technology, and automated analytics to expose new value hidden in big data. Businesses deploy these insights through intelligent agents mediating both internal and external communications and interactions.


Big data presents fascinating opportunities for insight and innovation--as well as the challenge of separating the signal from the noise. Increasingly, companies are overlaying their internal, proprietary data with insights from external structured and unstructured data to better understand their customers, performance, and marketplace. New technologies are making big data useful and manageable, but careful, business-driven planning and governance are essential to success. Starting from clear business objectives, enterprises are evolving to manage the dramatic growth in data, harvest new insights, and continuously optimize their actions.

About the Author

Paul Barth, PhD, Managing Partner/Founder, NewVantage Partners.

This article was originally published on 01-12-2012
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