There are many facets to big data consulting and no integrator or reseller can be adept at every process. Smart VARs are going to specialize, serving as project managers, integrators, or analytics experts. However, to promote value from big data and keep the project on track, VARs need to ensure that every aspect of a big data project is executed properly. That’s why you want to work with a large, diversified technology distributor with the resources to support you at each step of the engagement.
As Aiman Zeid, author of Business Transformation: A Roadmap for Maximizing Organizational Insights, notes in an interview on the SAS Bookshelf blog, there are four pillars that need to be balanced for any big data any endeavor to succeed – people, process, technology, and culture. If any one of those components overshadows the others then the pillars will be uneven and the project foundation will be shaky. Most companies just don’t know how to approach big data.
A Gartner study in 2013 revealed that 64 percent of organizations were investing in big data but only 8 percent had actually deployed big data, and the number of successful projects is even smaller. There are many reasons for failure: management resistance, an inability to choose the right use case, lacking the right skills, wrongheaded enterprise strategies, data siloes, etc. Failure comes from a lack of understanding of how big data works and how to balance Zeid’s four pillars. With the right outside expertise you can tap the big data consulting resources you need to keep the project balanced and on track.
Large Distributors Offer More Support
Large technology distributors with big data consulting experience can keep big data projects on track. Large distributors bring three immediate advantages to big data:
More vendor resources – The big distributors know the vendors; can make hardware, software, and service recommendations; and bring in whatever resources are necessary. They also can deliver proven, ready-made big data tools, including the programming and integration resources to adapt them as needed.
More financial resources – Large technology distributors have deeper pockets, which means they can work with resellers to provide financial terms for big data resources. Big data deployments can be expensive, and have a partner willing to help you with the necessary financing can make or break the success of a big data project.
End-to-end consulting services – Most importantly, the larger technology distributors will have their own big data consulting services. They have to support all that big data hardware, software, and services they sell, and they can share that expertise to help resellers succeed.
Supporting the End-to-End Big Data Lifecycle
As part of big data consulting, larger technology distributors also should be prepared to assist you at each step in the big data lifecycle:
Initial marketing – Distributors can help you position your big data expertise, provide collateral, and even offer sales leads to get you started.
Sales process – The distributor also can help you close the deal, showing you how to work with various stakeholders in IT, the executive suite, finance, marketing, and other departments. They also can provide sales engineers to lend their expertise.
Presales process – As part of presales, you can get help creating the right use case, assessing the infrastructure, gathering data resources, getting stakeholder buy-in, and developing the proof of concept. The right distribution partner can work behind the scenes to make sure you have all the components in place before you begin.
Supply chain – Once the scope of the project is in place you will need hardware, software, cloud services, and other components. This is where the distributor is truly expert – at supporting the supply chain.
Integration and deployment – Not only do large distributors sell the hardware and software, they understand how to install it. As part of big data consulting, they can preconfigure servers, set up hardware and software, and do a lot of the heavy lifting needed for deployment.
Data integration and security – As part of any big data project you have to manage the actual data, both external data and data stored in the data warehouse. A distributor well versed in big data can help with data integration, including data normalization and validation, and data security.
Operations – Once the project is complete, your big data consulting partner can provide ongoing monitoring, maintenance, and support.
Entering into any big data engagement requires project management expertise, which means you don’t have to have all the answers, but you should know where to find them. With the right distribution partner, you will always have the resources available to address any big data consulting challenge.