My, what Big Data you have!

Research is critically important and companies need to start asking the right questions before they engage a software supplier. The main objective is to choose a software supplier that will help to grow your business and ultimately, create a mutually beneficial partnership. Choosing the most appealing supplier is a process, and careful considerations need to be made.

Adding value
You need to ask yourself which supplier will add the most value to your business and why they will add value. One way to narrow down your selection is to determine each supplier’s main or unique characteristics. Are these characteristics well-matched to your organisation and will they make the supplier the best candidate to handle your Big Data? Does the supplier have a documented procedure for the service it provides and, if so, are its current customers fully satisfied? Another important factor is to make sure your supplier shares your vision for your Big Data outcomes. This is very important as it will ensure all parties are invested from the get go. Often, choosing a local partner has a range of significant benefits, from better and more insightful communication to shorter delivery timeframes. However, for many, distance is not a deterrent and other factors are more important.

More than technology
In choosing your supplier you need to be aware that Big Data is not just a technological problem but a data engineering problem, too – it is not just Hadoop but instead, has many layers and aspects to it. Whoever you choose as your supplier of talent, make sure that the company has a full-circle service offering. This must include analysis, development and data competency. Judging by the current market, it will serve your organisation well to make sure that the supplier is competent in all Cloud platforms because these will be an integral part of your Big Data/Internet of Things solution.
Quality and quantity
Another key indicator is, of course, the quality of the supplier’s service as well as the size and skill set of its staff. You need to ask the supplier about its track record on delivery. The real differentiator is the qualification of the organisation’s staff, its intellectual property and its professional approach to solving complex software problems. If a company really is as BIG as it claims to be, then the proof will be in the data management.
One also needs to bear in mind the support structures of the organisation. Are there relevant experts who can be called upon – these experts should range from extremely technically minded employees to those with excellent financial and mathematical skills.
Do a bit of research on the supplier’s staff members, too. Do they have blogs and are they actively sharing their knowledge with the development community? This is critical as it will help assess the long-term engagement strategy with the supplier. Again, make sure there are shared values between your organisation and the supplier.
Do you know where they’ve been?
Client referrals are always a must when it comes to reviewing the authenticity of a supplier’s claims. Delve deeper into the supplier’s closet and see if there are any skeletons roaming around. If a client was not fully serviced, it would most definitely be neighbourhood gossip. The converse is true, too: when a client is fully satisfied, the results will be evident in the suppliers' client retention as well as client referrals.
Although there is plenty of talent in South Africa when it comes to software engineering, Big Data is such a new concept in South Africa that the tech skills may not be there completely. To this end, organisations should look for a supplier than can plug into all the different aspects of it, including: high-speed data processing, strong data governance and s pedantic and pragmatic approach. Ultimately, who you choose will come down the supplier that ticks all the Big Data boxes that your organisation values most.

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