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3 keys to make big data work

Feb. 10, 2014 - 06:02PM   |  
By SEAN REILLY   |   Comments

Collaboration, communication and careful planning are key to pulling off "big data" projects successfully, a new report advises.

Before embarking on a new project, for example, chief information officers "should seek out the experience of others" and focus on how the endeavor creates value for the public, according to the report, released Monday by the IBM Center for The Business of Government.

"Choosing the right opportunity for a big data project is critical," the report says.

The report, written by Kevin Desouza, an associate professor of public affairs at Arizona State University, comes as big data is attracting increased attention at the federal level, prompted in part by an Obama administration research and development launched in 2012.

The label itself is nebulous; Desouza describes big data as an “evolving concept” tied to the growth of data and how it can be used to improve business processes, reduce risk and create customer value. Although the public sector is generally in the early stages of big data efforts, Desouza highlights several federal agencies, including the U.S. Postal Service and the IRS, that are already using analytics to crunch vast amounts of information.

Government agencies also have to consider privacy and ethical concerns more carefully than businesses, as well as contend with "arcane information systems" not capable of handling big data efforts,. the report says.

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