Big Data, Big Content, Big Process....It's the direction, Stupid!

Big Data

So here is the thing. For some time now Big Data is all over the place. Everywhere data is produced, stored and mined for gold again. Sound a bit silly if you ask me. Why would you first create a mine and then mine the gold again? But the real problem is not only do we create a lot of data but we also create a lot of content and process. I'm not even sure what worries me most.

Big Content

In the context of my profession I deal with the content story. Those that have been around a little longer may remember the actual paper office. You had these 3 sheet papers you fed into a typewriter and indeed the Carbon would print on the Copy. Then you sent the copy (green and pink usually) around in one of those yellow covers, struck out the last sender and filled in the person and physically put it in a box call OUT. Then a person would come by and distributed this across the department.

With the advent of the copier, people just typed one sheet and made a gazillion copies (provided the copier would complete a run successfully. Usually NOT with the typical grunt of the user), put them in equal amounts of distributing folders and off it went: "Didn't you get my memo?" was the term of the day those days.

Office and email have exponentially increased the production of content and sadly exponentially complicated the "one version of the truth" model. Not only that but also sliced " a story" into Text, Numbers, Presentation and ALL can have their own life and be stored in different locations. Microsoft's Sharepoint - built to remedy this - fails miserably at addressing this. Recently I saw a quote from T-Mobile's CEO: "If you digitize a shitty process, you have a shitty digitized process"

Big Process

In 1992, Hammer and Champy wrote the book on Business Process Reengineering. The manufacturing world shook under the realization that they had become nothing but a string of suboptimal subprocesses. I worked in manufacturing at that time. I had to do the BPR exercise in my own site. I worked on getting myself fired at the time without knowing it before it was too late. A big lesson. Enter today's world. Think of your own company. How many of you are working on a process that you had to  make up while doing it? A system here, a database there. Some spreadsheets to do reporting a possibly some user dumps. For 10 years I worked at a company that developed  BPM (Business Process Management) software. You could do what you could do in Microsoft Visio but make it executable...provided the process was a workflow or case management. During that time I saw a lot of customer projects with As Is and To Be. Also I saw that most processes are NOT workflow but are creative processes. A local partner woke me up and told me: "Nice all this process design but where is your data design?"

It's the direction, Stupid!

So, you need to design a process. What do you do? Right! Get Visio and what is the first thing you do? That venerable START icon! A couple of weeks ago we embarked on a process that was pioneered by Amazon: Write a press release of the stuff you have delivered to your customers BEFORE you spent a minute on building it. It was about what we wanted tell our customers we improved for them. It was hard to really tell a customer what you have improved for them without really knowing yet but it put everybody's feet to the fire about what we really deliver of value to a customer.

If you are willing to make the mental ride, the consequences are far reaching. It means you must design a process starting with the END icon. It means you need to work you way back to the START. It means you need to design PROCESS, DATA and CONTENT in one go. It means you should not produce any of this that doesn't roll up to the end result. It means that big data, big content and big process are a result of a shitty process design. Within this context I'm thinking about how I can make this community work for my customers. Only then I can reverse the direction again because I truly understand my customers and bring the innovation required for my customer to have the competitive edge. We can all be like Steve Jobs.