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What Should You Look for in a Big Data Partner?

When shopping around for a big data partner, you’re often looking for the big E: experience. You want assurance that this isn’t their first trip around the block. Despite how transformative it’s been, big data is still a fairly new technology, and there aren’t enough skilled technologists to meet the demand of all the potential big data projects.

If you find yourself struggling to find big data experts to execute your projects, you’re not alone. In a 2014 Accenture survey, 41 percent of respondents said the lack of talent to implement big data projects was a top challenge. Given that talent gap, businesses must look outside their own teams. The same survey found that only 5 percent of respondents relied on internal resources to execute their big data installations; the remainder used one or more sources of external help (consultants, contractors, or vendors).

It’s clear that, if your business can’t handle your big data demands internally, finding the right partner is extremely important. As you start that process, here’s what you should look for.

Depth and Breadth of Experience

When considering partners for your project, look at their years of experience with big data. Even though this remains a relatively new field, it’s helpful to work with a team that’s considered a pioneer in this space.

You also want partners who understand your industry, project type, timeline, and project scope. Review your prospective partner’s use case history to see if it pairs well with the project your company plans to implement.

Skill Builders

External help is necessary as your company explores the value of big data. However, at the same time, the big data talent gap inside your company must also be filled. Your partner in big data execution should be able and willing to build the skills of your team. Find one that can lay the groundwork of expertise through authorized training as well as certification paths.

A Committed User Base

In addition to the solid knowledge within the team that will assist you with your project, look for a strong base of committed and engaged users surrounding the team. A consultant with ties to an open community of users is an invaluable asset. This can equate to literally hundreds of thousands of hours of implementation experience that can augment the experience of your big data partner.

A Variety of Ways to Help

It’s important to choose a partner that can match wherever you are on the data maturity path. Think about what kind of help you need and whether those needs will change over time.

Perhaps you have a strong internal team, and their skills simply need to be bolstered with training. You may have a team with only passing experience of big data applications. If so, you may want them to learn from consultants in a hands-on environment as they work through your project together. If you’ve already used consultants on a number of big data projects, perhaps you simply need a flexible support structure you can call when you run into a new problem that requires outside expertise to solve.

Do you need to start building a foundation? Is it time to accelerate the scope of your big data projects? Does your firm need to transform into a data-driven enterprise? No matter your current position on the data maturity scale, the right big data partner can accelerate your progress.

Now that you’ve discovered what to look for in a partner, a larger question remains: Why do you need a big data partner? The answer is because your customers, clients, and competitors are already following this path. In the Accenture survey, 93 percent of respondents said big data was important or very important to their organization. They also noted that companies using external resources found their big data installations to be easier. Don’t get left behind: if partnering with external resources can bolster your business, it’s time to consider it.

Find out why Forrester believes Hortonworks is a leader in the big data industry.

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