by Armando Acosta

Big Data has moved from buzz word to reality. It's being used to help create new medications, better our understanding of climate change, and even making cities more livable. Increasingly, more businesses are employing Big Data to help predict sales trends, improve the customer experience, and make decisions that positively impact the bottom line. In fact, at the end of 2013, an IDC forecast study predicted that the Big Data technology and services market will grow to $32.4 billion by 2017, a compound annual growth rate of 27%.

In this blog, we will look at some best practices that may be employed to gain the most ROI when adopting a Big Data solution.

1.  Understand your Big Data options - Choosing the right system to suit your organization's needs is paramount to a successful implementation. Selecting a solution that is easy to deploy, allows for testing and proof of concept, and can scale to meet your growing needs is key to success.

2.  Determine goals - Having a solid understanding of what you hope to achieve from mining your data is imperative to ROI and your success. Just analyzing your collected data to see what you may uncover likely will not lead to a positive impact on the bottom line nor allow you to gain more predictable business outcomes. Think in terms of, "If we know 'X' can we accomplish 'Y'?"

3.  Have a strong governance plan in place - Protecting your data from a security breach is an absolute priority. A strong governance plan with standard, repeatable processes can accomplish that, while ensuring transparency of your processes, reducing your costs and increasing efficacy.

4.  Recognize more is not better - Having too little data is usually not an issue for most organizations. Trying to obtain usable information from an abundance of data is costly and defeats the purpose. The key is to keep data organized. Conducting a "data audit" prior to any Big Data project can also help to keep the necessary data in a single database. The quality of your data is far more important than the quantity.

Big Data can help your organization with a myriad of business goals. Understanding the best practices associated with Big Data will guarantee you achieve them.