September 28, 2012 | Written by: Andras Szakal
My team will be the first to tell you that I’m not a big fan of the word “strategy”. The essence of a strategy connotes a high level plan but does not mean that those who have participated in the development of the “strategy” believe that the objectives are attainable. Worse yet most strategies don’t define a plan that is actionable. Even I have to consciously avoid using the term “strategy”. Why? Because the word “strategy” is a comfortable term that’s visionary but not actionable. While defining an “execution” plan is anything but comfortable. Admit it, you probably just cringed. After all “execution” really means action and not just any action but the right action focused on meeting a particular objective.
This coming week the TechAmerica Big Data Commission will release its report on Big Data to the Federal Government. The primary purpose of the report will be to help government stakeholders understand the value of Big Data and provide guidance on how to extract value from the data rich environment in which the government operates in order to optimize government services. There are two elements of the upcoming report that resonate strongly with me as a CTO. First, a Big Data Strategy is not about technology but primarily focused on business outcomes. Recall from my previous blogs that the value of Big Data is in the ability to apply analytics to gain deeper insight into the business. It’s in that definition that we must realize that any attempt to apply the value of Big Data must come from the business perspective first.
Another important theme of the upcoming report is the need to understand the “Art of the Possible” within the context of the business. Without excessively focusing on the technology, business leaders must invest time and effort into learning how analytics can be applied to Big Data to help optimize their business. This will require significant personal investment on behalf of government leaders to understand what is possible and gain inspiration from others successes. Business leaders will have to re-imagine their business processes in order to define a starting point for adopting Big Data technologies. This means considering business processes as dynamic flows that can be adjusted as new insight is gleaned from the analytics applied to these large data sets. That will require an “execution plan” not a “strategy”. This execution plan will have to be managed by the line of business stakeholders and carefully planned and adjusted as their organization gains experience. Of course the technical approach is important but the overarching execution plan must be driven and funded by the line of business to ensure success.