Building a Practical Foundation for Big Data Transformation

The TechAmerica Foundation is releasing its Big Data Report today. The goal of the report is straightforward yet visionary, as the title reflects – “A practical guide to transforming the business of government.” The report achieves three important results: 1) it resolves common misconceptions about the definition of Big Data; 2) it outlines how Big Data can be used to address key issues facing government agencies; and 3) it also provides a common framework for policy discussions.

The release of this report is timely. Dell customers who have helped us pioneer innovations in Big Data technology will recognize the best practices that are incorporated into the report:

  • Consolidate technology infrastructure
  • Reduce energy use
  • Move to shared services for mission support activities
  • Reduce field operations footprint and transition to self service

The report’s framework can be used to help organizations who are just beginning their exploration of how to best use Big Data. For others, it will help guide policy discussions and planning efforts. More experienced groups will be interested in learning how to grow their experimental projects into larger programs. At all stages, this report will provide useful guidance on how to extract the Big Data needed to analyze and use for effective decision making.

This report provides another building block to an initiative Michael helped to start about two years ago with his Politico op-ed outlining how government agencies can use more efficient technology to help them save over $1 trillion over the next ten years. Using technology as a tool not only helps them deal with issues that stem from things like Big Data, it also helps them save money in the process. This focus is even more imperative today as our government customers are likely to face steep cuts as a result of sequestration measures that will mandate agencies to cut up to 9.3% from their budgets across the board.

Getting the most value out of Big Data doesn’t necessarily mean “rip and replace.” Our experience at Dell shows that integration between new big data capabilities and legacy IT investments is often necessary for deploying Big Data solutions. The process is iterative, starting with the end in mind:

  • Start with specific and narrowly defined business requirements
  • Plan to augment and iterate rather than starting with new systems 
  • Select a Big Data entry point–velocity, volume or variety
  • Identify gaps and then plan the investments to close the gaps
  • Iterate and add in adjacent core capabilities

After the report’s release, the Foundation will be sponsoring a series of community meetings. Look for future conversations on how we are accelerating advancements in Big Data technology across Dell to help solve our customers’ needs. I will be sharing best practices and customer examples on how Dell has paved the way, including information integration and governance, compliance, security, data management and visualization.  Stay tuned for upcoming posts on Dell and Big Data.

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About the Author: John Igoe