Big Data = Big Change

Edna Boatright, VP, Protective Life

Everyone is talking about “Big Data.”A quick search on Google yields 16 million results. Organizations are bracing for a 76 percent increase in data managed within the next 12-18 months, according to IDGEnterprise, and IT Executives are trying to determine how to simultaneously prioritize data efforts in process efficiency, customer experience and product development.  It’s no wonder that Big Data is expected to swell to a $50 billion business by 2017.

If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. And like most organizations, you’re probably also wrestling with heavy topics such as how to handle structured and unstructured data sources, master data management and in some cases, enterprise data governance.

With such a high level of interest and investment, why are so many organizations challenged to deliver on the vision and promise of Big Data? Perhaps it is because Big Data comes with Big Challenges—challenges that extend beyond systems integration and data visualization. Achieving the benefits of Big Data requires human insight and engagement. 

“Organizations that only focus on Big Data, without focusing on the users of that information have a difficult road of adoption ahead of them”

Organizations that only focus on Big Data, without focusing on the users of that information have a difficult road of adoption ahead of them. Successful Organizational Change Management (OCM) includes more than balloons, banners and training. A comprehensive OCM plan includes assessment of your organization’s pain points, needs and readiness, and identification of gaps that will create roadblocks to adoption. Below are six points to keep in mind regarding OCM when you’re navigating the path to Big Data:

1. Make sure you have sponsorship at the executive level

Organizations sometimes mistake ‘permission’ to develop these over arching tools with sponsorship. Permission can look like sponsorship because it allows you to proceed, but it is a short rope. With permission you may encounter business siloes that cause conflict or question the business case. Instead, seek sponsorship. By knowing what is important to your leadership team, you can establish meaningful financial goals tied to Big Data and build a sound business case. When executive leadership publically articulates support, provides funding and ensures participation from their team then, and only then, do you have sponsorship.

2. Evaluate your organization’s readiness and develop a plan to drive adoption

Many organizations will develop comprehensive plans including data, technology and training, while OCM is an afterthought. OCM should have its own work stream with identified tasks and resources. Before you begin, assemble an OCM team with representation from all stakeholder groups. Together develop the plan and own the execution.

3. Tailor your OCM efforts to specific needs

Communicate too much too soon and you risk people tuning you out because they don’t perceive an immediate benefit. On the other hand, if you get too far along in the project before critical stakeholders are onboard, you risk stalling out. Not all areas of the organization require simultaneous adoption. For example, your business intelligence team will likely be impacted most immediately. However, contact center representatives may not see benefits until later in the life cycle of the project when the data is used to aid the customer experience.

4. Build an alliance

An effective way to drive adoption is by identifying and cultivating advocates. If your organization has had limited exposure to utilizing Big Data, advocates may need to be created. Seek out those in your organization who are most likely to benefit from access to Big Data and invest time in them. By working together to identify the benefits for them, they will in turn become a great source of support.

5. Communicate many times in a variety of formats

There is no magic bullet here. It really depends on your organization. You will likely try several things that fall flat and a few that will resonate. Be creative and keep trying new things. What works for you may be a combination of the following:

• Broad concept roadshows can reach a larger audience and work well for initial introductions and groups that may not require in-depth understanding. 

• Concept videos and visual journey maps can help demonstrate particular benefits, especially if the journey is tailored to processes important to the audience.  

• Deep dive sessions provide a way to get into the details with target groups that may require an in-depth understanding of the project. 

• Project specific micro - sites can provide a convenient way for stakeholders to access the information they need to help with adoption. Make sure your site is engaging—think marketing not project management. Include rich content that is frequently refreshed so that users have a reason to come back. Leverage a subscription service so that stakeholders can receive notifications for new content on topics that are important to them.

• ePostcards provide a great way to provide brief messages to stakeholders and can drive readers back to the project microsite for more information.

6. Measure the effectiveness of your activities

What is working, and what is not working? What areas of the organization are on track for their defined level of adoption? Which groups need more work? One of the ways you can measure adoption is to benchmark and evaluate with a readiness survey. Identify the key indicators of readiness, then create and administer a short survey at the beginning of your process. Conduct additional surveys monthly or quarterly as appropriate to measure the level of change. 

The benefits of Big Data can be realized when people engage, develop insight and ensure valuable information flows into your organization’s mainstream processes. OCM is the catalyst that prepares real people for Big Data.

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