Big Data Panel from NJ Tableau User Group – Part 2

Lee Feinberg, President of DecisionViz, is moderating the panel:

  • Jose Maldonado, Verizon Wireless

  • Jamie Fox, Tableau Software

  • Ted Frisch, Alteryx

Our presenters have nicely agreed to field a few questions and share their views on how they see big data challenges out in the real world. We have Jamie Fox from Tableau Software, Ted Frisch from Alteryx, and Jose Maldonado from Verizon Wireless. Gentleman excellent work on the presentations and thank you again for joining me here.

Lee Feinberg: So last question. Do you think it’s enough to install new technology and set it lose, or is there other work you need to do to actually execute a Big Data strategy?

Jamie Fox: I think that there’s no technology that’s relevant without having context around it. So it shouldn’t be about the technology. It should be about the problems you’re solving, the process, and the people. Start there and then figure out what the technology is. I have worked on many data warehouses over my career where the IT staff comes up with this great idea to create a data warehouse. They build it, they spend a year and spend millions of dollars. Then they try to find a user. I’ve seen that pattern more than once. I think it needs to be driven like I said, by people, by process, and by business.

Jose Maldonado: I agree with that. I think before you stand it up and set the masses loose on it, you have to have some kind of strategy and governance about on how you access that data and act upon it. There is more work to be done besides just standing it up and letting people have access to it.

Lee Feinberg: So how do you deal with the drive, as someone said, that it’s the ‘shiny object.’ How do you deal with that when everybody is rushing towards it and wants to deploy it, but you want to have that little bit of restraint of making sure we actually know how we’re going to be using it before we start having this big directional push in the company and spending all the money and energy behind it?

Jamie Fox: I don’t think there’s as much people running to it as much as people want to learn about it because everyone is, “Oh Big Data!” They want to know about it. Then they find out what’s involved, what’s the cost, and whether or not they have a use case. Then they say “Alright, this is good to know. But we’re not going to do it right away. It’s good to know as I encounter more use cases and more ideas around my company.”

When I worked at Microsoft, we did a lot of big data projects. We sold big data and it was like that every time. We’d always have, “Hey, we want to see your latest big data solution.” We go in. We’re so excited. “Hey, someone wants to buy this.” But no one buys it, they just want to learn about it and say, “That’s nice. When we have a use case, we know who to call.”

Ted Frisch: I actually see a lot of big companies running to it. I see a lot of the large financial services firms creating the data lakes, the single version of the truth. I think it’s distracting. Again, I think it’s an IT function but I don’t think the business completely understands it. But I’m seeing a lot of people jump to it without a true sense at the end of the day of how they’re going to use it. Back to your point Jamie of having the context of how they want to use that data before they push it, as opposed to what they’re doing now and running the multiple data warehouses that aren’t probably being fully utilized.

Jose Maldonado: I would second that and what we have to do to keep them away from being distracted, is have a strategy on how you intend to use that data. Don’t craft an architecture and dashboards — and buy all these solutions to try and gather and collect the big data — unless you know how you’re going to act on that data.

Lee Feinberg: That’s great. I think it’s good to always hear these real world views from folks that are living it. All these guys are really right on the edge of all the things that we’ve been talking about today. It’s really great to hear different views as well. So, thanks very much again for coming up.

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