If you’ve started taking the first few steps on your data journey (see blogs one, two, and three), then you should know people who’ve been bitten by the insight bug. You’re probably one yourself. There’s no stopping them. They just keep asking new questions and creating new value until they’re satisfied they’ve got it all – or until they have to fill out an IT requisition! 

But as questions beget questions there’s generally no end goal, just a virtuous cycle of improvement as better questions are formulated and sharper insights uncovered. With big data, the insight bug bites even harder. Then it burns. There’s simply no time now for anything but self-service data analysis in an organisation that prides itself as agile.

“Organisations with big data are over 70 percent more likely than other organisations to have BI projects that are driven primarily by the business community, not by the IT group,” says Aberdeen Group’s “Go Big or Go Home? Maximizing the Value of Analytics and big data.”

With big data, business users won’t put up with IT’s old, slow methodologies in which data is released as if it were chapters in a book.

In “The Value of big data,” Third Nature research analyst Mark Madsen writes, “Not only is the BI publishing model archaic, the context in which the BI model expects information to be consumed is similarly antiquated. It’s like reading a book by lamplight or candlelight – what used to be called ‘elucubration.’”

“Big data, like electric lighting,” writes Madsen, “illuminates previously unlit corners. It delivers both brighter lights and the ability to have them when needed. Instead of waiting months for data to be perfectly clean and ready for use, it’s possible to use big data technologies to examine and discover the value in data. When valuable, the data can be sent through the more rigorous processes for a data warehouse.”

Don’t force users to “elucubrate.” Enlighten them – empower them. Let them use big data the way that works for real people. Letting users see and interact with data via self-service analytics and data visualisations offers a powerful tool for improving the business. These tools speak to the human need to understand things visually and allow for greater exploration and explanation of data in real-time.

That’s the path to enlightenment!