“If you build it, he will come.” – From the movie “Field of Dreams”
“Build it and they will come” is a popular quote often attributed to the movie Field of Dreams. But guess what? This quote is not from the movie; it’s actually a misquote. [See the actual quote above.] It’s fascinating, however, how much mileage this misquote has gained over the years—in the media, at conferences, in our business meetings, and even in our social circles.
Truth be told, this quote—right or wrong—has fueled our organizations: Build the data warehouse and they will come. Build the customer data mart and they will come. Build the analytics solute, the self-service BI app, the data visualizations – and they will come. Even though we go to great lengths to expand our platforms, build the applications, and integrate the data and business processes, the reality is that we don’t always come.
Now we have big data. If we build it into the mix, will they finally come?
A Big Data Best Practice for Integration
The best practice we like to share here is: Build it on demand using the best tools for the job. With big data and big data technologies, we now have more options on what, where, and how we’re going to build our integrated infrastructure. Each technology, traditional and big data, has its own strengths and weaknesses. For some business requirements, it will make more sense to continue using your traditional data warehouse and analytical system. For others, using big data technology may be the best, and possibly only, option. Sometimes either solution will work.
Here are a few examples:
- Clean, consistent, high-quality data: This is what we expect our traditional system to provide. However, as big data technology continues to mature, it may become easier and more cost-effective to use this technology as well.
- Raw, unstructured data: This is a classic use case for big data technologies. Traditional systems are just not designed to handle this type of data.
- Unexplored business questions: Both traditional and big data technologies can meet this need – just in different ways. Read more here: Analytics and Big Data: Discover the Unknown Unknowns.
Key Takeaways for Marketers
- If someone tries to sell you on the idea—“build it and they will come”—run. Or correct the quote.
- Don’t build it because you can. Build it because it fulfills a business requirement.
- Be open to using the best technology solution for the job at hand.
- Tell the Wizard on the island to watch his back.
- Partner with technical folks – internally and/or externally – who know big data technologies. This journey is not intended for “weekend warriors.”