The Business of (Big) Data: Potential and Progress
The technology that underpins modern society — from smartphones to social platforms to digitally-enabled products to the internet of things — continues to drive an unparalleled increase in the volume, velocity, and variety of data available. It’s not about larger relational databases or data within corporate walls anymore; the data is coming from all over the place. Consider that YouTube users now upload 300 hours of video every minute (two years ago this was 72) and in 2014 there were 58 million Tweets every day. And there’s a corresponding increase in internal corporate digital collaboration, supply chain data exchange etc. Each of these produces a digital footprint — and potentially interesting insights — when mined and combined in the right way.
As we discussed 2+ years prior, capitalizing on this rapid data explosion requires new thinking, new management approaches, new tools and new skill sets in order to capture, analyze and use this data. This roundtable examined the implications of these challenges, how we as corporations are attacking them, and whether we are, in fact, making progress. We had an in-depth discussion about marrying structured data with unstructured, internal with external, public with private, and social media with transactional, all to try to create business insights that are more predictive in nature — with an emphasis on making the information actionable. Specifically, we addressed such questions as:
- In what areas critical to your business is the amount of data available exploding? How are you addressing that? What areas have increased the most in the last 24 months?
- How does this increase in data on customers, sales, inventories and other critical aspects of your business reshape decision-making? Do better decisions come faster? How do you manage the information across its lifecycle?
- How is new data changing your view of the customer? Could the ability to better integrate data sources allow you to be more closely aligned with the needs of your key customers, their customers’ customers, and the role you play in creating value for both?
- What is the impact of data from social media? How tolerant will consumers be if enterprises combine previously separate stacks of data to better predict behavior? Who owns the rights to this information?
- In what ways is data allowing you to compete better? What functions in the business are most impacted?
- In what ways might sets of data be combined to render previously unavailable insights? What innovative sources of data have you discovered? Has the potential benefit of the intertwining of data streams, the mashing of data from various sources, outweighed the difficulties and costs yet? Have we found ways to do this rapidly and well?
- To what degree do you focus first and foremost on the “distinctive capabilities” of the firm that could be enhanced through good data collection, reporting and analytics (as opposed to using intelligence and analytics first where it is easiest to execute)?
- Are business intelligence and analytics becoming more predictive — i.e. more “front windshield” and less “rear-view mirror”? Is that possible and what are the keys?
- Are the infrastructure/systems and talent demands changing rapidly enough to create the capabilities to take advantage of the data that is now (or could be) captured? What are the other organizational/structural obstacles to faster progress and greater impact?
Dion Hinchcliffe, Chief Strategy Officer at Adjuvi LLC, shares his thoughts on where big data use stands today.
Keith R. Sturgill, VP and CIO, Information Technology and Corporate Six Sigma, Eastman Chemical Company, explores the implications of big data challenges.
Professor Alva Taylor (center right) listens along with Dickey Oliver, VP of Business Technology at Restaurant Supply Chain Solutions (far right.)
Participants from Eaton Corporation join the discussion via video.
(left to right) Y. Esat Sezer, SVP & CIO, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Inc., Mark Meyer, Head of Global IM, Tetra Pak Group and Steven Gebben, VP of Compensation & Benefits, Eastman Chemical Company.