Earlier this year, I outlined eight critical elements for big data success as our own big data journey gained speed. Now that we’re a couple of quarters further along, I wanted to share a few of the lessons we’ve learned along the way.
1) IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT SPEED
There’s no question that the migration to SAP’s HANA platform based on in-memory computing has delivered some incredible jumps in performance for Avnet so far.
With HANA in place, we’re seeing query response times that are 5-6 times faster than our previous business intelligence platform could deliver, and some complex queries are coming back 15 to 20 times faster than before.
While this kind of improvement validates the platform investment, by itself it only represents a minute portion of the potential benefits a big data platform like HANA can bring.
Speed creates an environment for capacity and scalability; now we have to work closely with the businesses to convert that potential into measurable value for our employees, customers, suppliers.
2) THE “FOUR Vs” ARE GAME CHANGERS
At Avnet we talk about the “four Vs” of big data: Velocity, Volume, Variety and Veracity. Speed is certainly one area of improvement, but it’s also about the quantity and disparate sources of data that are now able to be processed using SAP HANA.
From Avnet’s perspective the veracity—or accuracy—of the data and results are essential as we look to standardize metrics and seek out “one version of the truth” across all of our businesses worldwide.
The combined improvements we’ve seen in all four dimensions to date require an entirely new paradigm of thinking to ensure we take these capabilities to their fullest potential.
3) MANAGING EXPECTATIONS IS ESSENTIAL
Big data, like cloud computing, has such high visibility and universal application that it’s easy for any business or function leader to see the benefits of applying the technology to his or her own area of influence.
But big data is a longer-term, enterprise-wide journey, and laying the groundwork for future success goes far beyond the IT aspects as I’ve discussed before.
There’s a real excitement around big data at Avnet, so properly setting and managing expectations with business colleagues has been much more important with this initiative than many other IT rollouts.
Rusty Murdaugh, Avnet’s vice president of Financial Planning & Analysis, recently alluded to this fact in his guest post.
4) IMPLEMENT A GOOD CHANGE MANAGEMENT STRATEGY
To help ensure that expectations and excitement are grounded in the reality of your big data rollout, be sure to devote strategic and tactical resources to execute a sound change management campaign as well.
We’ve had a great deal of success at Avnet standardizing on the ADKAR® change management model from Prosci. ADKAR stands for Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement. Every employee has to go through each phase in sequence to truly maximize the intended results of the change.
From the perspective of Avnet’s big data journey, we’re focused on supporting our employees as they move through the all five stages of ADKAR, laying a proper foundation for our future training initiatives.
5) MOBILITY IS MANDATORY
Having the ability to request and view reports anywhere, anytime has been one of the most requested features of our big data rollout. Avnet’s leaders spend most of their time on the move, either between meetings or traveling. Looking at a full-size monitor is a rarity, and traveling with paper printouts are a nuisance to many.
So when it comes to designing our end reporting capabilities, we’ve been heavily focused on ensuring that our business leaders are able to request and view analytics reports on demand through their tablets or smartphones.
After all, the data is only of value if it’s delivered in a timely basis in a way that the audience can easily understand.
I’ll be sure to check back in with a new list of observations and lessons learned as we get a bit further along in Avnet’s big data journey.
We’re building a strong foundation for future performance at Avnet through hour big data initiative, and there’s a tangible excitement in the businesses and IT team as we roll this capability out across the globe.