Tackling Big Data Projects: How can they Benefit My Company?

I’m back after a short pause in blogging.   I have been on the road to Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Mexico, meeting with Telecom clients.  As expected, most of the discussions revolved around Big Data plans and initiatives.  This may be a surprise to you, but not everyone embraces Big Data.  I heard an earful – from business leaders as well as IT leaders.

This blog focuses on how to overcome common objections to Big Data projects.

Common Objections to Big Data Projects and How to Respond

The following were actual direct quotes from a variety of senior and middle executives of Telecommunications companies.   The objections come from a mix of business as well as Information Technology executives.  Yes, some are quite shocking, but all are revealing.  Obviously, not everyone is ready for Big Data.  The quotes represent the spectrum of knowledge and mis-perception that we need to overcome to successfully advocate Big Data projects that provide business value to Telecom companies.

I have studied each objection and given my interpretation of the perception behind the objection.  Remember, perception is reality, and you have to deal with it appropriately.  My recommendations for each objection are listed below.  (Credit for some of the content below belongs to Carey James, EMC Solutions Partner for Big Data.  He joined me in my travels and helped respond to these client comments.)

Here goes:

Picture1New_Orleans_City_of_Old_Romance_and_New_Opportunity_Crop_p_23_MoneybagsThe Perception behind the Objection

Historically, data storage has been expensive.   Beyond hardware costs, popular software Business Intelligence (BI) packages are priced by terabyte of data managed.  IT costs have gone through the roof when adding data to already expensive legacy platforms.

How EMC Responds to Objections

This one is relatively easy:

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  • Prices for storage have gone down from over a dollar per GB in 2005 to less than 5 cents per GB today.
  • Storage tiering enables even lower cost storage for infrequently used data.
  • EMC’s comprehensive software suite (now part of Pivotal) enables Big Data projects to scale efficiently.
  • At many clients, we are able to prove business case savings by offloading legacy BI platforms, and use those savings to fund Big Data projects

See also other answers below.

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The Perception behind the Objection

These objections typically arise from executives who I’ll characterize as ‘unenlightened’.  They feel their current organization and processes are just fine.  They are resistant to considering new approaches or techniques.  Everything would be fine if they just had more money.

How EMC Responds to Objections

These objections are harder to overcome.  Some approaches: building-the-bridge-to-success

  • Big Data projects give you more insights and texture so that you can spend your current Network budget more effectively.
  • Big Data projects provide analytics to enable you to specifically invest where your most valuable customers are.
  • Share Case Studies (in detail) to show successes.

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The Perception behind the Objection

These two quotes are typical when an executive has only a superficial knowledge of Big Data.  They have developed perceptions based on what they read and hear from peers.  They do not see applications in their business.

How EMC Responds to Objections

images (1)Gentle, tactful responses to these objections are the key.  For the first objection, a key approach is numerous case studies. For the second, A ‘Planning/Visioning’ workshop for Big Data is what EMC typically conducts.  This onsite workshop brings the potential of Big Data to a specific client executive team.

Additionally, point out that the nuanced texture of analytics findings (complemented by visualization presentation formats) surpasses anything that they currently have.

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The Perception behind the Objection
As evidenced by the above quotes, executives sometimes fear ‘Consulting-itis’, which is the symptom when consultants review a business looking for problems, then present findings that the executive team already knows.  They also fear that Big Data workshops will consume large amounts of their time with minimal outputs.

How EMC Responds to Objections

imagesEMC has developed the Visioning workshop into a well-planned sequence of activities (including 2 weeks of pre-work leveraging actual client data).  It culminates in a one day executive workshop that comes right to the point: what are the highest priority Big Data use cases for the specific client – and what is the business case.

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The Perception behind the Objection
This objection is often voiced by IT executives since they have a narrow view of Big Data.  They envision a Big Data project that is merely a replacement BI system.

How EMC Responds to Objectionsimages (2)
Continue to stress that like all successful IT projects, a partnership with the business is a necessary success factor.

Point out that IT can provide even more business value when key business units (Marketing, Customer Care, Network) are involved in planning the scope.

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The Perception behind the Objection
This objection also originates from uninformed executives – that have not been educated on the promise of Big Data solutions and benefits.

How EMC Responds to Objections
There are too many public case studies that show how Big Data solutions provide competitive advantage.

  • Educate your client about these case studies and
  • Bring the point home by taking their data and conducting a Proof of Value – with use cases for their specific needs.

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The Perception behind the Objection
The industry’s use of new terms, such as Data Scientist and Data Architect, has fostered a perception that this technology cannot be implemented without large numbers of new hires.

How EMC Responds to Objectionsimages (3)
EMC’s Big Data solutions and methodologies leverage EMC Consultants in many roles, including Data Scientist and Data Architect.  Clients do not need to wait to train their own staff.

In addition, Pivotal’s new HAWQ product (Hadoop with Query) enables anyone with SQL training the ability to leverage their SQL skills for Big Data analytics.

I hope the above helps you as you advocate for Big Data projects.  I welcome your thoughts as well as other objections you have seen in the marketplace.

Next Up: A Telecom Big Data Case Study

I hope you will join me and will pass on the link to your friends and networks.  Please … subscribe, send me feedback, and check back for the next installment.   If nothing else, I promise the Travel Tips will be extremely useful!

Today’s Travel Tip:   Free In-Flight Internet Access for American Express Platinum Cardholders

No, I do not receive commissions from American Express or any other product or download (2)service I mention in this blog.  This one is a true gem.  How many times have you completed an important presentation while on a flight – and had to wait until landing to send to your client/boss/business associate?  This tip is courtesy of Antonio Cancino, an EMC Consultant who is constantly on the road:

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American Express Platinum Card Benefit details include:

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This is a good deal!   Of course, you can just relax and enjoy the movie on the flight!

About the Author: Laddie Suk

Laddie leads a cross-functional Dell Technologies Consulting team focused on digital transformation and industry solutions. He is a seasoned industry veteran with deep experience across multiple industries, solutions, and technologies. As a former Verizon Network CIO and Network Executive at AT&T and Bell Labs, he has extensive hands-on experience in leading strategic network and IT development projects and managing communication service provider environments. He has also led strategic and tactical engagements in network transformation, IT transformation, and business process and performance improvement for clients throughout the Americas.