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Exclusive - Bernard Marr Talks Analytics and SMART Big Data

Bernard Marr founded the AP-Institute in 1991, is based out of London, UK, and is acknowledged by LinkedIn as one of the World’s top 100 business influencers. He has advised many of the world’s best-known organizations on building big data strategies and he is a best-selling business author on Big Data, Key Performance Indicators and Strategic Performance Management.

The last time icrunchdata News caught up to Bernard, we discussed wearables and sports analytics, and its impact on Soccer/European Football. This time we talk to him about his latest book and what exactly is ‘SMART Big Data’, how his writing process has changed over the years and his perfect writing environment.

Bernard, thanks for joining us again and let’s get started.

In January, you published Big Data: Using SMART Big Data, Analytics and Metrics to Make Better Decisions and Improve Performance. In the book title, you have ‘Using SMART Big Data’ with smart in all caps. How do you define SMART Big Data?

I don’t really like to term ‘big data’ because it confuses people and overemphasizes the size of data. It’s not about size, but what you do with it that matters. The SMART framework I have developed helps companies to focus on the really strategic issues that data can help them solve. SMART stands for:

S= Start with Strategy – basically, be clear about your strategic objectives and the strategic business questions data can help you answer.

M=Measure Metrics and Data – once you are clear about the strategic needs, you can then go and find the right data that will help you solve your business problems.

A = Apply Analytics – this is about finding the right analytical tools that will help you turn your data into relevant insights to solve your business questions.

R = Report Results – In the next step we need to report the insights to decision-makers so that they can be understood. It is about the best data visualization and communication.

T = Transform your business – the last step is to make sure we use the insights to transform our organization, to make better decisions and to take actions. This is where we are adding the value and without it all big data initiatives are a waste of time.

You published your first book in 2006 titled Strategic Performance Management, you have published over 10 books since then, and also post a lot of big data and analytics articles online. How has your writing process evolved over the years?

My writing style and process is very different today compared to what it was when I wrote my first book. Like with anything in life, you just learn how to do things a little faster and hopefully a little better. When I started to write my first book the whole process was very daunting and almost too big to handle and my writing style was a little stiffer and maybe a little more academic. Today, I come up with new ideas for books almost every month and I am able to break books down into manageable chunks. I often use my blog posts as test-beds for new ideas and to frame parts for future books.

I think what I am good at now is telling stories people can relate to and using analogies to make complex topics easy to understand. This is something I have always done for myself where I break things down so I can understand them. What I wanted to do with my Big Data book is to provide a practical introduction so that anyone – with or without prior knowledge – can understand the concept and get a simple step-by-step approach on how to get started with using big data in their organization.

What is the perfect environment for you to do your best writing?

The best environment for me to write is in the evenings when there are no distractions and phone calls. I often put on a little background music – maybe Diana Krall or classical music – and then get into the zone where I happily type away and produce one chapter after the other. I can also write well in hotels, on planes and sometimes even in Starbucks.

Do you write from your PC, Mac, tablet, phone or old school with pen and paper?

When I am in my office I write on my Mac. I have three 27-inch screens that are great because you can have multiple parts or chapters of the book open, which makes it easy to cross-reference. I use a fantastic tool called Scrivener for my writing and I think it is only available for Mac. When I am on the road I use my MacBook Air and I use my iPhone or iPad to capture ideas and make notes.

Bernard, thank you for speaking with us about your latest book on SMART Big Data and the evolution of your writing style.

Stay tuned when we continue to talk to Bernard about the startup scene in London and his favorite cities to visit.

Article published by Todd Nevins
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