Finding the right big data consulting partner can be a challenge. You want to find the right distributor to complement your big data expertise. However, does it make more sense to work with a niche big data consulting company or a larger distributor that offers end-to-end services?
According to Wikibon, the size of the big data market is going to climb from $7.3 billion in 2011 to $48.5 billion by 2017. The biggest growth category is expected to be big data professional services, so clearly the majority of profits are in big data consulting. Other sources of revenue are coming from application development, NoSQL and SQL databases, infrastructure software, networking, storage, and computing. Chances are your big data consulting practice will touch on some or all of these categories, but you want to make sure that you have a distributor that can provide the additional resources you need for big data success.
When Niche Expertise Matters
Very few integrators have the expertise to do it all so they focus on delivering one aspect of big data, such as infrastructure support, software development, or analytics. If you choose to specialize in your own big data niche, you can become a contributor to a larger big data project. However, if you plan to apply your big data consulting expertise to oversee the entire project, then as project manager you will need to assemble all the additional resources.
This is where you need to make a decision whether to go with niche providers or one larger distributor. Niche distributors are going to specialize and could be valuable, especially if you are targeting a vertical market. Specialized expertise in healthcare, financial services, banking, retail, manufacturing, or other markets can make your big data expertise more valuable, and you may want a distributor to complement your vertical market expertise. For example, a partner with security expertise for HIPAA or Sarbanes-Oxley compliance as part of big data could prove invaluable.
However, to manage an end-to-end big data project you will need more big data consulting expertise. Either you can assemble an army of experts to handle different aspects of the big data project – hardware, software, cloud resources, analytics, etc. – or you can partner with a larger distributor who can help you every step of the way.
Why Bigger Can Be Better
Ideally, you want to find a distributor with the right team of experts so you can get the help you need, when you need it. This is where a larger distributor with more resources can be of real value:
Hardware – Big distributors know all the vendors so they are in a better position to make recommendations about big data hardware. A good distributor can help you negotiate deals on hardware bundles.
Software – Software development is a critical part of big data. Your distributor should have the expertise to help you with development, including working with software providers such as Hortonworks or Cloudera, and developing custom software using Hadoop, NoSQL, and SQL.
Services – Cloud services are becoming an essential part of big data, giving companies the versatility and elasticity they need to accommodate the changing scope of big data projects. Your distributor should be in a position to help you broker cloud services, and realize ongoing revenue in the process.
Financing – One of the real benefits that larger distributors offer is financial support. Big data projects can be expensive, and the best distributors work with their partners providing financing for hardware, software, and services to ensure big data success.
Sales Support – Your distributor partner also should be able to assist you throughout the sales process. This includes initial marketing support with training, collateral, event support, and even sales leads. It also means help closing the deal and presales support, such as working with the customer to define the scope of the big data project and the elements required.
Operational Support – Of course, any big data project is not a one-time event. Big data requires ongoing management, including operational support and maintenance. You should be able to rely on your big data distribution partner to help you with big data monitoring and maintenance, including support for service level agreements, security, and ultimately helping refresh the project
What you really need in a big data consulting partner is a distributor with the breadth of resources to help you where and when you need help, but structured in such a way that you get the personalized service you need to succeed. Rather than trying to assemble a team of experts, find that one vendor who can do it all.