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Delivering Extremely Rapid Response to Complex Problems Is the Key

By Lee Blackstone, CEO, Blackstone & Cullen, Inc.

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Lee Blackstone, CEO, Blackstone & Cullen, Inc.

What do you get when you put a CEO and   a data scientist in the room together?   Not much – they don’t speak the   same language and there is very little   common ground for understanding, but they both   need each other. To pick the one Big Data trend with   the maximum impact is subjective at best and will   be different for different organizations’ needs. There   is a shift in approach to solving big data problems.   Historically, the answer has been to save all the data   in something like Hadoop and then discover the key   nuggets that make a difference. Leading organizations   now understand that a deep domain knowledge is   necessary for their data scientists to be successful. My   favorite analogy is the ground hog hunter in Montana. If I am going to hunt ground hogs in Montana,   I want to know where the ground hog holes are   because there is a much higher probability there   are ground hogs present. Do I really care what the   guy on the Southwest 737 flying at 30,000 feet above   the hunting area is having for lunch? Still part of the   data environment we can examine for causality or   correlation, but realistically not likely to have any   impact on my success in hunting ground hogs. The   premise is to have an idea of what you are looking for   before you start the quest so you don’t waste a lot of   time going down the groundhog holes.

“There is a delineation of the guy who has the domain knowledge, can talk to the CEO, understands big data and analytics, business process and can explain to the technical SAS modeler or Hadoop jock,what needs to be done”

 There is clearly a delineation of the guy who has the   domain knowledge, can talk to the CEO, understands   big data and analytics, business process and can   explain to the technical SAS modeler or Hadoop jock,   what needs to be done and the guy who just knows   how to build models. It is like having a functional SAP   consultant and having an ABAP programmer – they   are both necessary to be successful.

 We have been in business for 26 years and have   done projects in virtually every industry in the world.   We have also done near real time solution delivery   which is very different from most companies. When we   show up “the missiles have launched” and we believe   we have to have an actionable   solution in about 30 minutes   or at least know what we   are going to do. With   one of our major   customers, where   we have been   engaged in big  data for the past   13 years nonstop,   we have complete   development /   deployment cycles of 10   days and an SLA on really   important mission   critical scenarios,   that if a request   is made by 9   am, 90%   of the   t i m e   w e can deliver the solution worldwide   by noon the same day. That is a   completely different way of working   from most organizations.

 Blackstone and Cullen’s   competitive advantage is extremely   rapid response to hideously complex   problems across 50 or so back end   data sources. One of their major   clients is a large global software   company and their senior director   of solution delivery Patrick C. says,   “I have worked with Blackstone and   Cullen nonstop for 7 years and every   single project has been on time and   on budget. Why not use B+C?

Patrick C. is the beneficiary of   one of our most important KPI’s.   Over the 26 years we have been in   business, over 80% of our customers   have been promoted or bonused as a   result of the solution we deliver.

 If I had to pass along advice   to an organization beginning the   Big Data Journey, I would suggest   finding a consulting company that   has done this 25 or 30 times with real   experience in the end to end solution   as well as a solid domain knowledge   of your business. Recognize that   a pretty dashboard is not always   correct. Quickly   pulling data and   aggregating it in a   front end tool is great   for prototyping but   not for a production   system that needs   to pull from 20 or 30   data sources. There   are also serious   considerations for   cleaning the data   and master data   management. We   have perfected   this over the years   ensuring that only   clean data makes it   into the repository.   Our experience   has shown that   if you have over   5 data sources   feeding your data   warehouse or repository, it will   fail at least once a day. Making the   data aggregation engine industrial   strength is crucial to your success,   don’t get fooled by shiny objects!

 In the end, it’s about the people. In   Big Data Analytics there is not much   room for anyone but “A Players” with   deep domain knowledge. Are they   really hard to find? You betcha! Are   they worth their weight in gold? You   decide!

 Since 1989, we have been   delivering best of breed and   highly customized technology and   consulting solutions to the world's   leading brands.   At Blackstone + Cullen, we   take our clients on a data journey   bringing the art of global business   and the science of data together  to acquire data, then, analyze,  report, predict and prescribe what   “Success” looks like. We speak   global business as taken from   Blackstone’s extensive experience   and his book Manage Globally Sell   Locally and combine with those with   the data science expertise driven   by Frank Cullen, PhD IEOR to derive   and drive results for our global   clients.

 Blackstone + Cullen has worked   in virtually every industry and in   organizations the size of GE and   Microsoft to Gwinnett County   Schools, the State of Georgia, etc.   Blackstone + Cullen has earned a   wide variety of awards in our history.   In 2014 we were named to the Top   100 Big Data Analytics companies in   North America by CIOReview.