It’s still the people – even with Big Data

A recent WSJ article on big data focuses on the mistakes organizations make as they implement big data initiatives. Common mistakes include being seduced by Big Data’s promise and moving forward without setting clear and achievable objectives, overestimating their staff’s abilities, trying to connect too many disparate data sources, having too many cooks in the kitchen and setting unrealistic goals. Four of these challenges do not relate to the technology side of big data – they are problems with the human side of the equation.

In the early 2000’s when third party enterprise software solutions were becoming the norm and taking over from legacy systems there were many spectacular failures. At the time, Isurus published a thought piece regarding one of the leading causes of the failures – the lack adoption of these systems by employees. Many parallels exist between those implementations and the big data initiatives of today. The following is a summary of what we said then, which still describes the challenge of human nature today.

It’s often not the technology itself that spoils a new enterprise-wide technology implementation. It’s the people. To successfully implement enterprise technology, it is essential to consider issues such as who will use the technology, when, and how. This is especially true for technology in areas such as and enterprise resource planning (ERP) customer relationship management (CRM), and supply chain management (SCM) — areas where multiple people, functions, and companies use technology to achieve new levels of performance.

Research Isurus has conducted reveals an increasing awareness among large enterprise decision makers that it takes more than technology to achieve enterprise goals. The realization has been fueled, in part, by failed implementations that relied too heavily on technology and did not effectively incorporate the people, processes, and culture that compose an organization.

In unsuccessful companies, we see incongruence between the new technology, the current pattern of working, and the way employees are rewarded. The root of the problem lies in fundamental misunderstanding of how people accept change and adopt new technology. In successful companies, implementers understand and address the fit between the technology and how people actually work, the political realities of a top-down imposition of something new, and the basic issues of motivating the end-users.