Hold this question in your head as you read: Is your company ready to be customer obsessed?
Forrester recently put out a report that insight driven businesses are estimated to grow 27% annually. These companies are growing significantly faster than their competitors because they are able to optimize every aspect of their business. In order to get there, these companies made major changes in how they staff and look at data across the entire organization and made it a priority at the executive level.
In our previous post,we admit that big data can have its challenges, but recognize the best way to move forward would be to break it into manageable pieces: People, Process, and Technology. This article will focus on the “People” part and give you some guidelines for how to grow change from within.
One of the takeaways from a poll we conducted on the webinar is inline with what we’re hearing from businesses all over: The “People” aspect of adoption can be the biggest challenge. This is further reinforced through research performed by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) where they found 43% of executives believe big data skill-sets are going to continue to be in demand in the next 3+ years. Overcoming this challenge boils down to understanding what is required to staff appropriately and have the right team in place.
Instituting Change Through Ownership
Defining key roles and structural changes for big data projects is just as important as identifying the process and technology strategy. Without the right people in place the project is doomed to produce insights that won’t impact the core business. Ask yourself these questions:
- Does the executive sponsor believe in their responsibility to lead change and evangelize the use of data in new ways?
- Do you have the right team in place to help manage, explore, and apply the insights?
- Have you defined the roles and organizational structures so you can staff for success?
- Are you ready to adopt an agile iterative culture?
The executive who is willing to dedicate resources, so the right team can be put in place with an iterative culture, will enable new projects to be adopted quickly and ensure the success of their investments. On top of that, they also need to share the vision and goals with a team of experts and leaders, so they can create a the strategy and build a roadmap for the future.
Centers of Excellence Start at the Top
Every major initiative needs an invested executive in order to be successful, but it can’t be any executive. One of the biggest benefits you get from big data is the ability to transform the business with data, innovation, and customer usage patterns. The executive sponsor of a big data initiative needs to be a strategic leader in the business that will not only benefit from these new insights, but needs to understand the differences between big data and traditional BI so they can use these new insights in different ways.
They should build the centers of excellence and committees that will be able to collaborate on policies, strategies, and roadmaps that will drive the program forward. These executive teams and committees will also be able to define and assemble the right teams of experts in a mix of central and distributed teams, depending on the number of use cases.
Building for the first Phase
Over 55% of executives polled in the EIU report indicated that they are finding “workarounds” for acquiring talent through programs like digital training to get their current workforce up to speed and 47% indicated they were partnering with trusted vendors to help drive towards key milestones for the business. These forward looking executives found ways to bridge the skills gap that they had and partnered with leaders in the market to help them drive their data strategies. Companies looking to be successful will invest in expanding the core skillets of employees they already have and intend to hire in the future.
“As more organizations invest in big data, the shortage of available skills and capabilities will become more acute. Instead of facing a difficult recruiting market, organizations should focus on adapting available skills and engaging with established service providers to fill the skills gap.” – Gartner
One of the most critical aspects of any Cloudera engagement with our customers is a gap analysis of the skills that exists within an organization. Most companies think of big data skills as nearly impossible to find, but what are not considering is looking at the skills that already exist in the market and seeing if they can be trained to use these new open-source tools.
Some of the most in-demand programming skills available in the market are directly applicable to core programs within the Apache Hadoop ecosystem.:
- Hadoop/MapReduce = Java
- Apache Spark = Python (or Scala)
- Apache Impala (incubating)/Hive = SQL
- Apache Solr = Java, C, C==, Perl, Python
This isn’t to say that everyone who knows SQL, Python, or Java can work with big data. Not at all. Experience in other areas of data management are certainly needed. This is to say that you can ook internally for the skills that already exist or hire a team with skills readily available in the market and get them trained in the right classes.
Data scientists can often be found within the business or hired externally. These people already have the domain expertise and the computer science skills needed, but may require guidance from hiring a MS/Ph.D.candidate from a local university, so that one true statistician is on staff within the team. Data Science training is highly recommended for this team.
Last, but certainly not least, is the venerable Architect. With the landscape of big data and the Hadoop ecosystem constantly changing, infrastructure architecture couldn’t be a more critical component of this team. They need to balance tactical and strategic needs and work closely with both the software and the hardware teams. Training couldn’t be more important here. We recommend Cloudera Administrator and Developer for Spark and Hadoop training. This person also shouldn’t be afraid to call in the experts when necessary. No one can know everything there is to know about the Hadoop ecosystem, that’s why Cloudera has built entire teams with core competencies around specific subjects. Reach out and we would be happy to help build a plan with you.
Now bring it back and ask yourself, are you ready to take the journey to be customer obsessed and data driven? If so, stay tuned for the next two posts where we will share more information on process and technology.