Welcome!

@DXWorldExpo Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Jason Bloomberg, Liz McMillan, William Schmarzo

Related Topics: @DXWorldExpo, @CloudExpo, @ThingsExpo

@DXWorldExpo: Blog Feed Post

Connecting Big Data Project Management with Enterprise Data Strategy By @DDMcD | @BigDataExpo #BigData

Making the data analysis process effective and efficient is where good project planning and management come in

The Tip of the Spear II: Connecting Big Data Project Management with Enterprise Data Strategy
By Dennis D. McDonald

“If data analysis is Big Data’s "tip of the spear" when it comes to delivering data-dependent value to customers or clients, we also must address how that spear is shaped, sharpened, aimed, and thrown – and, of course, whether or not it hits its intended target.”

Introduction
In Meeting the Mission of Transportation Safety, Richard McKinney, U.S. Department of Transportation's CIO, describes four components for what I call an “enterprise data strategy”:

  1. Data governance
  2. Data sharing
  3. Data standards
  4. Data analysis

He also mentions additional factors relevant to DOT’s data strategy:

  1. The volume of data is increasing and we need to be ready for it.
  2. Managing data is not the same as analyzing it.
  3. We need to be thinking now about what type of analysis we need to be doing and what resources will be needed to do the analysis.

bdpm

Based on the 20+ personal, telephone, and email interviews I’ve conducted so far[2] as part of my big data project management research I would add a fourth item to McKinney's list:

  1. We need to spend at least as much time to planning and managing the people and business processes that make data analysis possible as we do the analysis process itself and the technologies that support it.

Tip of the Spear
If data analysis is Big Data’s “tip of the spear” when it comes to delivering data-dependent value to customers or clients, we also must address how that spear is shaped, sharpened, aimed, and thrown – and, of course, whether or not it hits its intended target.

We also want the processes associated with throwing that spear to be both effective and efficient.

Making the data analysis process – the tip of the Big Data spear -- effective and efficient is where good project planning and management come in.  Challenges to doing this in connection with data intensive projects are identifiable and include:

  1. Siloes. Data are often generated and managed in system- or mission-specific siloes. As a result, creating and implementing an effective enterprise-level data strategy that rises above and encompasses multiple programs, systems, and/or missions requires not just data analysis skills but a mix of technical, organizational, and political skills – not just good “project management.”
  2. Sharing. Making data accessible and useful often means that data need to be shared with systems and processes outside the control of those who "own" the data to be analyzed. Key steps in sharing data are that (a) data need to be identified and inventoried, and (b) technical and business ownership of the inventories data must be determined. In many organizations this inventorying is easier said than done and may require both manual and automated approaches to creating the necessary inventories.
  3. Standards. Efficient and sustainable analysis of data and metadata may require development or implementation of data standards. Existence and use of such standards differs by industry, data type, and system. The costs for developing and adopting standards to facilitate data sharing and analysis will also vary and may have cost and schedule implications at the project, program, enterprise, and industry or community levels.
  4. Delivering value. Modern data analysis tools and techniques provide mechanisms to identify patterns and trends from the increasing volumes of data generated by a steadily widening variety of data capture mechanisms. Challenges in predicting what will be found when data are analyzed places a premium on making sure we are asking the right questions. This in turn impacts our ability to justify project expenditures in advance.

Portfolio Management
Responding to the above challenges requires not only project management skills but also a project planning process that takes into consideration alignment with an organization’s goals and objectives.

As one of my interviewees suggested, the challenge faced in complex “big data” projects has just as much – if not more -- to do with overall strategy and “portfolio management” as with how individual projects are planned and managed. Effectively designing and governing a portfolio of projects and processes requires not only an understanding of how the portfolio supports (relates to, is aligned with, interacts with) the organization’s objectives; it should also incorporate a rational process for defining project requirements and then governing how the organization’s resources are managed and applied.

Given how pervasive and fundamental data are to an organization’s operation, skill in data science and analytics is a necessary element but such skill will not be, in many cases, a guarantor of success. Technical and analytical skills must be accompanied by effective planning, oversight, and management in order to ensure that the data analysis “spear” is being thrown in the right direction.

Delivering Value Quickly
Ideally a portfolio of projects will support an organization’s strategic plan and the goals or missions the organization is charged with pursuing. We may also need to “get tactical” by delivering value to the customer or client as quickly as possible, perhaps by focusing on better-controlled and better-understood product-centric data early on via a “data lake” approach.

Doing so will be good for the customer and will help create a relationship of trust moving forward. Such a relationship will be needed when complications or uncertainties arise and need to be dealt with.

In organizations that are not historically “data centric” or in organizations where management and staff have a low level of data literacy, an early demonstration of value from data analysis is especially important. An agile approach to project management, accompanied by openness, transparency, and collaboration, will help to accomplish this.

Unfortunately, challenges such as those identified above in many cases cannot be addressed effectively in tactically focused short-term projects given the usual pressures of time and budget. Such challenges can be complex or rooted in how the organization has been traditionally structured and managed.

Still, it’s not unusual for a tactically-focused “sprint” project, even while delivering an effective model or other deliverable, to uncover the need for a more global (or strategic) approach to managing data, metadata, data security, privacy, or data quality.

Balancing Tactics and Strategy
When focusing on delivery of useful data-related deliverables it always pays to keep two questions in mind:

  1. What needs to be done immediately to make data useful?
  2. What does this tell us about what needs to be done more globally in order to maintain and increase data usefulness?

Attention to enterprise-level data strategy while delivering useful results in the short term has implications beyond what is being attempted in an individual project’s scope. Treating data as an enterprise resource may even require changes to how the enterprise itself is managed. As we all know, it’s not unusual for change to be resisted.

An effective enterprise level data strategy will be one that balances the management of a portfolio of individual data intensive “agile” projects with parallel development of an upgraded enterprise data strategy. Doing one without the other could have negative consequences, for example:

  1. Focusing only on a narrowly defined data intensive analytics project by itself may generate immediate value through frequent useful deliverables but may not address underlying technical process issues that impact long-term efficiency and sustainability.
  2. Focusing only on an enterprise data strategy without delivering tactical benefits reduces the possibility that that less data-savvy managers understand the “big picture” down the road.

As experienced project managers know, concentrating on “quick and dirty” or “low hanging fruit” when under the gun to deliver value to a client in the short term can generate short term benefits. This same approach, however, may actually increase costs over time if strategic data management issues related to data standards or quality are repeatedly kicked “down the road.” Also, delivering a “strategy” without also engaging users in development of real-world analytical deliverables might mean that strategically important recommendations ends up gathering dust on the shelf somewhere.

Communication Strategy
As experienced project managers understand all too well one of the most important elements in effective project management is communication:

  • Communication among project staff
  • Communication with the client
  • Communication with stakeholders

In the case of the big data or data intensive project, even when focused on delivering incremental value to the customer by focusing initially on specific or narrowly targeted goals, we want communications about project activities, especially among key stakeholders, to focus both on tactical as well as strategic objectives.

This may require accommodating a variety of communication styles as well as different levels of data and analytical literacy especially when both business-focused and technology- or analytics-focused staff are involved. But if we do follow this balanced approach we will:

  1. Deliver a useful project.
  2. Develop a trusted relationship with the client.
  3. Build the foundation for a realistic sustainable enterprise data strategy going forward.

Summary
In summary, how a data-intensive project is planned must take into account both short- and long-term goals. This planning process must be a collaborative one and, even if led by the organization’s IT department – not an unusual situation – it must involve business or operating units right from the start in order to ensure success.

I’ll be turning my attention to this planning process in future posts. If you’re interested in learning more about this process please let me know.

Related reading:

[1] Copyright (c) 2015 by Dennis D. McDonald, Ph.D. Dennis is an independent Washington DC area management consultant. His services include preproposal research and analysis, proposal development and costing, marketing and sales support, project and program management, project plan development, requirements analysis, and strategic planning. Reach him by phone at 703-402-7382 or by email at [email protected]. An earlier version of this post was published at http://www.ddmcd.com/spear.html and distributed at the Dec. 8, 2015 ATARC Federal Big Data Summit in Washington, DC.

[2] Thanks are due the following for sharing their thoughts with me: Aldo Bello, Kirk Borne, Clive Boulton, Doug Brockway, Ana Ferreras, Keith Gates, Douglas Glenn, Jennifer Goodwin, Jason Hare, Christina Ho, Randy Howard, Catherine Ives, Ian Kalin, Michael Kaplan, Jim Lola, David McClure, Jim McLennan, Trevor Monroe, Brian Pagels, John Parkinson, Dan Ruggles, Nelson Searles, Sankar Subramanian, and Tom Suder.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Bob Gourley

Bob Gourley writes on enterprise IT. He is a founder and partner at Cognitio Corp and publsher of CTOvision.com

@BigDataExpo Stories
"Infoblox does DNS, DHCP and IP address management for not only enterprise networks but cloud networks as well. Customers are looking for a single platform that can extend not only in their private enterprise environment but private cloud, public cloud, tracking all the IP space and everything that is going on in that environment," explained Steve Salo, Principal Systems Engineer at Infoblox, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventio...
"Akvelon is a software development company and we also provide consultancy services to folks who are looking to scale or accelerate their engineering roadmaps," explained Jeremiah Mothersell, Marketing Manager at Akvelon, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Agile has finally jumped the technology shark, expanding outside the software world. Enterprises are now increasingly adopting Agile practices across their organizations in order to successfully navigate the disruptive waters that threaten to drown them. In our quest for establishing change as a core competency in our organizations, this business-centric notion of Agile is an essential component of Agile Digital Transformation. In the years since the publication of the Agile Manifesto, the conn...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5–7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buye...
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
"There's plenty of bandwidth out there but it's never in the right place. So what Cedexis does is uses data to work out the best pathways to get data from the origin to the person who wants to get it," explained Simon Jones, Evangelist and Head of Marketing at Cedexis, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
High-velocity engineering teams are applying not only continuous delivery processes, but also lessons in experimentation from established leaders like Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook. These companies have made experimentation a foundation for their release processes, allowing them to try out major feature releases and redesigns within smaller groups before making them broadly available. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Brian Lucas, Senior Staff Engineer at Optimizely, discussed how by using ne...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...
"Codigm is based on the cloud and we are here to explore marketing opportunities in America. Our mission is to make an ecosystem of the SW environment that anyone can understand, learn, teach, and develop the SW on the cloud," explained Sung Tae Ryu, CEO of Codigm, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, whic...
DevOps promotes continuous improvement through a culture of collaboration. But in real terms, how do you: Integrate activities across diverse teams and services? Make objective decisions with system-wide visibility? Use feedback loops to enable learning and improvement? With technology insights and real-world examples, in his general session at @DevOpsSummit, at 21st Cloud Expo, Andi Mann, Chief Technology Advocate at Splunk, explored how leading organizations use data-driven DevOps to close th...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Evatronix will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Evatronix SA offers comprehensive solutions in the design and implementation of electronic systems, in CAD / CAM deployment, and also is a designer and manufacturer of advanced 3D scanners for professional applications.
"We are an integrator of carrier ethernet and bandwidth to get people to connect to the cloud, to the SaaS providers, and the IaaS providers all on ethernet," explained Paul Mako, CEO & CTO of Massive Networks, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Sanjeev Sharma Joins June 5-7, 2018 @DevOpsSummit at @Cloud Expo New York Faculty. Sanjeev Sharma is an internationally known DevOps and Cloud Transformation thought leader, technology executive, and author. Sanjeev's industry experience includes tenures as CTO, Technical Sales leader, and Cloud Architect leader. As an IBM Distinguished Engineer, Sanjeev is recognized at the highest levels of IBM's core of technical leaders.
Leading companies, from the Global Fortune 500 to the smallest companies, are adopting hybrid cloud as the path to business advantage. Hybrid cloud depends on cloud services and on-premises infrastructure working in unison. Successful implementations require new levels of data mobility, enabled by an automated and seamless flow across on-premises and cloud resources. In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Tevis, an IBM Storage Software Technical Strategist and Customer Solution Architec...