Big data intelligence: New opportunities for collaboration

This blog is part of our conversation on big data, which includes our professional journal GMNsight: Advancing Grantmaking


Two thought-provoking posts by Leigh Jasper about the impact of big data on collaboration, as featured on

First, the ocean of big data:

When we talk about big data, we often focus on the stress of storage costs on IT budgets, or on the need for faster and more powerful analytics. But big data also has implications for collaboration.

Consider this anecdote from the Economist: “When the Sloan Digital Sky Survey started work in 2000, its telescope in New Mexico collected more data in its first few weeks than had been amassed in the entire history of astronomy. Now, a decade later, its archive contains a whopping 140 terabytes of information. A successor, the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, due to come on stream in Chile in 2016, will acquire that quantity of data every five days.”


For all its potential benefits, big data can drown organizations in an ocean of files, causing massive confusion and inefficiency – and increasing the risk of major mistakes and regulatory violations. As organizations evolve their IT infrastructures and operational processes in response to big data, they need to include the adoption of an advanced collaboration service as a critical success factor.

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Next, sailing the waters together:

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.


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.

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