The value of big data and the business intelligence it yields is undeniable. If you haven’t started on this journey yet, you risk going the way of the dodo.

Because of our long-standing relationship with a customer, in the last few years we have participated in the development of an assurance-driven big data solution using one of the main brands in the industry. It provided our team with excellent skills in this area, and the diversion from our regular commercial portal product development was well worth the exercise.

Looking at the results, I would continue to advocate that the value is undeniable, but it also created a number of challenges that we will need to explore and solve. The ability to view, analyze and triage data is excellent. But ad-hoc dashboards and reports only touch the surface of the value that is possible.

The first challenge is that there is no real strategy or answer to how structured data and this unstructured world will co-exist. Most early adapters have already decided to throw the old world out, but that is not a practical answer. In the project our team worked on, the two worlds were kept separate — partly for skills required, but also because of lack of strategy.

My instinct tells me that the results of any analysis need to find their way into a structured world for integration and for ongoing cohesive management based on the results. Using the results only within an ecosystem enclosed by big data is limiting, and operational processes cannot manage such behavior. The telecom world is about operational excellence and this mandates that the total value of big-data needs to find its way to a structured process.

Within our commercial portal, the goal is to enable customers to do all things possible within telecoms in a secure manner. If we continue to remember that operational excellence in serving the customer is the objective, then we need to produce big data results in a tangible format that drives results for the end customer.

The second biggest challenge with big data is the very nature of big data. The human mind cannot deal with large-scale clutter, but big data is causing the proliferation of a massive number of dashboards and ad hoc reports within the business.

Everyone has his or her own custom answers, and the relationship between them is losing ground as it permeates the business. This is certainly a new realm that we will need to learn and adapt to.

The younger generation is growing up in a world of many distractions, so is it just a matter of waiting for the older generation to retire? Even if this is the answer, the transition is going to be very painful if we don’t have a more cohesive strategy around this.

Automation from BI will be a reality in the very near future. This drives the premise that we should not expose such clutter to the human mind, or allow it to affect the order and process we use to drive operational excellence. Again, the reality of automation from BI is not here today, and to drive human processes we need to channel this unstructured data into a well-defined means for mass consumption. I continue to look for a simple, uncomplicated and yet brilliant answer, so any ideas are welcome. And please don’t hesitate to get in touch.