In a previous post – “Big data deluge: new challenges for collaboration” – I discussed the vital importance of managing explosive volumes of data to ensure effective collaboration. In reality, that’s only half the story. The other side of big data is the opportunity to leverage a large body of intelligence from multiple sources for effective collaboration.
Large projects, particularly capital projects, typically involve hundreds of people and millions of documents and items of correspondence. Each project generates a massive amount of intelligence in the form of information, communications and processes. With today’s mobile and web-based collaboration technology, project data is captured and shared anytime from anywhere that project team members happen to be – the office, the site, the home, the airport, the hotel. Each data point contributes to a progressively larger mosaic of intelligence about the project.
With each new project, the mosaic continues to grow. New people join, new information is captured, new processes are developed. The learning curve continues to rise, and the big data just keeps getting bigger.
How do organizations harness that ever-expanding universe of intelligence and make it available to accelerate project schedules, improve project quality and increase profitability?
The answer is a collaboration service that is secure, neutral, centralized, unlimited, and searchable.
· Secure means that the data captured, stored and managed collaboratively cannot be accessed by unauthorized parties, altered, damaged, deleted, or destroyed. It forms a body of intelligence that is permanent and supported by a complete audit trail of discussions, decisions and actions.
· Neutral means that all project team members (authorized parties) have equal access to the data, and every organization owns its data. No ‘super-users’ or system administrators can control any other organizations’ access to the project data.
· Centralized means that the collaboration service is the active, dynamic nexus of all project intelligence. Consistent with its neutrality, the service does not reside behind an organizational firewall or any other proprietary gate, which would limit access by project team members outside the organization. At the same time, the service may interface and exchange data with other systems and tools that reside within the organization.
· Unlimited means no limits on file sizes, numbers of files, usage, or numbers of users. This ensures the flexibility and scalability required to manage projects of all sizes with full transparency and accountability.
· Searchable means that users can find what they need, when they need it, from a single source. This pre-empts the time-and-money-wasting effort of digging through volumes of data across multiple sources to locate the desired data point(s).
A final ingredient is the organization’s ability to benchmark its data capture and information management performance across an entire project or across all of its projects. Data for each project is generated within the organization and within other firms on the project team – and shared among team members. All internal and external project information constitutes an expanding data set – the mosaic of intelligence. With the right collaboration service, the organization can measure its ‘big data results’ and set targets for continuous improvement.
Just how organizations use big data to their strategic and competitive advantage is a matter of lively, ongoing debate. However, there is no question that the intelligence gained from managing big data collaboratively is to every organization’s advantage.