When it comes to big data consulting, there is one clear factor that is common to all use cases – people! Think about this – Big data is ultimately about people, even when it’s not! [Tweet “The big data cycle starts with human or social input and ends with human output.”] You need people within the big data cycle to monitor, interpret and analyze all the data too. Rather than being amorphous, faceless information, big data is as much a social animal with as many complex facets as any human. Hence big data consulting needs to take into account the very human aspects of big data.
Humanizing decisions are by far the most important decisions leaders can make. The decisions you make should fully consider the humanity behind the numbers and positively affect your human capital. Think about Tennis as an example. While commentators could expertly discuss Tennis Champion Roger Federer’s backhand, forehand, serves, and Grand Slam wins as if they were mere statistics, these numbers all originate from a human source. Federer’s coach and former World No.1 Stefan Edberg needs to humanize this data to see how best to train his student and to be a good coach. His decisions will affect Federer’s career, the tennis fraternity and his fans the world over!
Acknowledging the humans behind big data is the first step to start making smarter decisions.
To derive the real meaning behind your numbers or a word cloud that is created by analyzing some 50,000 comments about your business, use passive measures. For instance, if you were trying to measure employee engagement and find out how you can increase it, don’t just look at the number of people answering or the face value of the comments. Instead, use passive measures to find out details like the number of words in their comments, how much time did employees spend on each section on average, or what tenure or stage of their employee lifecycle are these employees in. Through passive measures, you really consider human input and you get a proper context for analyzing your data.
When it comes to big data, don’t just look at the obvious, but read between the lines too. Consider what all the variables mean to derive true value.
Go Straight to the Source
When Forrester or Gartner publish a long, detailed, statistical report about a company or an industry, what does a journalist do? My guess is that the first thing they do is start looking for is people – experts in the industry – who can validate findings by commenting on the report. Honestly, that is what real leaders do. They turn to their people for insights, they trust their teams to help them decode the numbers and make decisions that have real impact on real people across different levels of an organization. I only hope that the team you’ve assembled is a really good one, else as the saying goes, you might find yourself stuck between a rock and a hard place!
Here’s what I repeatedly tell my clients, peers, and colleagues:
When you have a hunch or want to find out something, go straight to the source and I bet you that most of the time, that source is people!
How do you make the best out of this social aspect of bits and bites?
You get the best of out your big data by shortening the big data cycle and focusing on the “people factor” from the get go. Here’s the traditional big data consulting cycle:
- You select the area you want to address:
Maybe you’d hire a consultant at this point and if this consultant isn’t paying attention to your human data, what follows are the futile steps two to six!
- Raw data is collected from various sources such as:employees, stakeholders, consultants, machines, software, and other reports. (again maybe by external consultants)
- Raw data is input into a system/software/machine (maybe by consultants)
- Processed data is output
- Processed data is further refined to create reports (maybe by consultants)
- Decision makers sit around and look at the numbers for answers. Sometimes they successfully make decisions at this stage, but most times, there needs to be further analysis and digging before you can make data-driven decisions.
Note:By the end of this process, you and your consultants have spent a valuable amount of resources.
Now here’s what the social big data consulting cycle looks like when you [Tweet “Hire smart consultants who know that true value comes from combining big data with human insights”]
- Identify problem or challenge areas
- Collect insights directly from stakeholders through a smart software solution
- Analyze data through auto-generated reports
- Make decisions driven by human insight
Note:By this point, you would have tapped into your best consultants – Your People – and would have tamed the big data beast.
Edwin has authored 9Lenses Insight to Action:A Social Approach to Business Optimization and Snapshot9 What’s Your Picture?:Accelerate Your Business Performance. Click here to download the first chapter of 9Lenses Insight to Action for free!