The Journey of Big Data: From Infrastructure to Insight

Mark Chamberlain, Vice President of Product Development, ADP

Mark Chamberlain, Vice President of Product Development, ADP

Many companies are realizing the notion that “data is the new currency” stands true, made evident more so during this period of uncertainty. While the need to harness this information is readily known, the process of storing, analyzing, and using it for good can be a long and non-linear path. Amid the current global health event, your desire to use data for good might take on various meanings across the organization. The aim might be to understand how your teams are performing and the concerns your employees have. Are they burning out? Are their voices being heard across the virtual divide? Good might also mean a better understanding of your customer’s needs to react to them in real-time and serve as the support system they need when social distancing guidelines make meaningful contact more difficult. Whatever your goals for good might be, taking a journey with your data starts in the same place: defining your intent.

Once your intent is understood, the next steps revolve around your ability to find and effectively store the data. This part of the process is where you start getting into the complexities of disparate “systems of records (SOR),” how to bring everything together, where to bring it together (the public cloud or in your data center), and how to interact with it. To help you make that journey, we’ll consider each step in more detail here.

Where is your data?

Many companies realize that they have a ton of valuable and insightful data, but it’s housed inconsistently in many different parts of the organization. Developing a map that shows the types of data you have, and where and how it’s stored, will help you better understand whether you need to extract it for use in a central location (a “data lake”). Considerations, including the frequency with which the data is changed and how timely you need it to be, will help you determine how often you need to grab it from the source. Additionally, reflect on your intent to evaluate whether you need to take the data you have to build new data. Do you need external data from outside your company to enrich your data further? An example here might be weather or location data, which might add value to the insights you ultimately derive.

 In order to put it to its most impactful use, you must be willing to take the journey from infrastructure to insight. In doing so, you can significantly drive your business forward and better navigate twists and turns you might encounter along the way 

Check Out: Top Big Data Consulting Companies

Where should you store your data?

Now that you’re more closely acquainted with your data and where it lives, it’s time to ask, where do you want to store it for use? Do you want to build a data lake on the public cloud? Or perhaps one in your data center? Do you want to build a data warehouse database? The answer to these questions really lies in how you will ultimately use this data after you centralize and store it. A clear vision of the insights you’re looking to glean will help you determine if a public cloud or private data center makes more sense and if it should reside in a “data lake” or data warehouse.

What is your data telling you?

Now that you have brought all of your data together and tackled the logistics of storage, it’s time to find the insights you have been hoping to realize. The key component here is having the right talent with the skill sets and tools needed to shed light on the visions your data has been hiding. To support that team, you should additionally look to build solutions they can leverage to reach your data’s fullest value. Partners to engage might include your Human Resource Business partner, to understand what your employees are feeling, seeing, and doing during these challenging times; your Sales or Business partners, to discover what your customers are doing and how to further position your products for success; and your leadership team, to examine how your company is meeting the moment and addressing both company and customer needs. This list can extend to additional teams from Finance to Supply Chain and more, depending again on your intent.

One of the truths about data is that its value lies in wait. In order to put it to its most impactful use, you must be willing to take the journey from infrastructure to insight. In doing so, you can significantly drive your business forward and better navigate twists and turns you might encounter along the way. 

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