Big Data won’t solve your problem (or maybe it will)

h2C574636I just finished reading “Can big data technology be used to replace creative marketing?” and felt the need to vent a bit.

This first part of this vent:

I’m not real sure what the reason for that article was…it kind of bounced around a bit.   Apologies to the author but I was confused reading it and don’t really think the author even addressed his own question. Of course, he DID get me to link to it. Link Bait: 1, Eric: 0.

My second – and most important – part of this vemt:

I’m tired of reading about how big data can solve all the problems of the world.  Big Data is an approach to help solve problems, yes…but it isn’t some magical approach that will make everything else obsolete and worthless.

I’m a fan of Big Data. I’m a fan of taking an analytical and data driven approach to business, but saying that Big Data can replace anything other than old Business Intelligence models and mindsets is just plain wrong.

To answer the question of Can big data technology be used to replace creative marketing?, no…it can’t and it won’t. In fact, Big Data actually makes the creativity and critical thinking even more important than it was in the past.  At some point in the near future, Big Data is going to be standard practice for business and the organizations that find a way to use data creatively are going to be the organizations that are going to be the leaders.

Big Data is a way to find answers and solve problems, its not the answer itself.



External solutions won’t solve your internal problems

Recently, I’ve been reading a book titled The Inner Voice of Trading: Eliminate the Noise, and Profit from the Strategies That Are Right for You (amazon affiliate link). I saw the book in the book store and liked some of the things I saw in it so I bought it.

Whether you’re a trader/investor or have no interest in the market, this book has some interesting insights into ‘process’ and ‘solutions’. While the author is writing for traders, some of what he says can be applied to all areas of life. The one passage that really hit home for me was this one:

There are no external solutions to your internal problems.

Seems pretty basic…but think about it.

How many times have you noticed a problem, then immediately set out to find a solution via the internet and/or via asking your friends / family? Many times that approach has worked fine.

Its easy to find solutions for problems that have been solved before. But…not every problem is the same. And…not every problem is one that can be solved with ‘stuff’ or by someone else.

Sometimes…there are no ‘external’ solutions. Sometimes, the solutions to your problems lie within.

Oftentimes, you are the problem and the only way to solve your ‘problem’ is to look within yourself and work through whatever issues you need to work through.

But…the majority of the time, we don’t want to look at ourselves. We want to blame others. We want to find that ‘perfect’ solution that ‘must exist’.   We look high and low for the solution but never find it…because we fail to look inside and see that the solution is an internal one.

This happens all time in life and business.  How many times has your organization spent millions of dollars to solve a problem…only to see that problem remain (or get worse)?  Happens all the time.

Remember…there are no external solutions to your internal problems. Before going outside to find a solution, take a look at yourself (or your team / organization).  You might find a solution staring back at you.

Image Credit: Introspective By KaosBrutal (Retorn) on flickr

Are you building an “order taker” or “solution maker” environment?

The Order-Taker By mynameisharsha on flickrDave Brock just published a post that resonated with me. The title of the post – Order Taker or Solution Creator – hits home in the IT world.

In the article, Dave describes what he calls ‘order takers’ and ‘solution creators’. The order taker does a good job of working with clients to deliver a widget but does very little to ensure that the widget actually will solve the clients’ long term problems.  Nothing wrong with order takers mind you…they can be very reliable and in some instances, order takers are perfect.

But other times, its better to be a solution maker/creator. In his article, Dave describes the solution creator as:

 They’re idea people, they’re results people–not just for themselves but for the customer.  They help their customers envision a new future.  They help their customers think about their business differently.  They help their customer change and improve.

Emphasis mine.

He also writes:

When they engage the customer they talk about what the customer is trying to achieve.  They don’t spend a lot of time on what their solution does, it’s features or capabilities.  They know it’s not about the product but what the customer is trying to achieve.  Instead they focus on outcomes and results the customer will achieve.  They quantify these results, so the customer can clearly understand the impact it will have on their business.

Emphasis mine.

Historically, the IT group has been an order taker. They have existed to do what they are asked to do…and for the most part, we’ve been good at being order takers.

Need a new server? Check….that’ll be $$$.

Need a new application?  Check…that’ll be $$$$.

Need your email backed up?  Check…that’ll be $.

In recent years, some organizations have begun trying to transform the IT group into something more than an order taker.  Some CIO’s and IT groups have even taken the initiative to try to transform themselves into something more than order takers.

Some have been successful. Many haven’t.  Most that have succeeded in this transformation have understood that the status quo will not work going forward. The IT of yesterday will not work for the organization of tomorrow. Business is moving faster and faster every day and the order taker and gatekeeper mentality of yesterday’s IT will leave many IT professionals behind if they don’t change.

I wrote an article a few months ago titled Splitting IT – Operations and Innovation that talks about the need for IT to change or have change forced upon us. In that post I wrote:

Operational IT will focus on the tactics necessary to keep the lights on and servers running. Strategic IT / Business Technology will focus on the strategy use of technology for the organization.   Both groups will co-mingle and work together of course…but the teams will have different goals and different types of people working within each.

Notice the difference between Operational and Strategic IT?  One difference is that one is an order taker while the other is a solution creator.  Operational IT will remain the order takers and the newly formed Strategic IT / Business Technology team will be the solution creators.

So…CIO’s & IT Leaders…are you transforming your teams into solution creators or are you happy being order takers?  IT Pro’s…what about you? Are you happy in the operational world of IT or are you chomping at the bit to help your ‘customers’ create solutions?

PS: A few other posts about similar topics that I’ve published are Driving transformation with IT starts with transforming ITNot What, but How – Connecting IT and the Business and I own the technology, you own the content for examples. If you haven’t read them yet, I’d love to have you add them to your ‘to read’ list 🙂

Image Credit: The Order-Taker By mynameisharsha on flickr

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