Even behemoth retailer Wal-Mart has a “maniacal focus” on doing everything it can to leverage the data it collects from 200 million transactions per week to improve the shopping experience of its customers, says CIO Karenann Terrell, speaking at a recent event in Silicon Valley.
The company has also been moving fast to add data scientists to its ranks in its headquarters in California, she adds.
“The number of people who really understand the power of data and how to put it in order is very small,” Terrell says. “It’s a new, emerging area that got hot fast.”
Pacific Gas & Electric’s big data issue comes in the form of handling the reams of data it collects throughout the day by smart meters, notes the utility’s CIO, Karen Austin, speaking at the same event.
To help organizations that are grappling with analyzing the tsunami of data flowing into their networks, Chris Smith, Accenture’s federal chief technology and innovation officer, and former CIO of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, recently debunked the top five myths of big data.
Big Data Can Be Ignored
Some people believe that because their organizations are moving to a cloud model, big data will be the problem of their managed services providers, Smith notes. But moving to the cloud requires organizations to understand the data going into the cloud and to retain a snapshot of the entire data landscape.
Big Data Only Refers To Size
The size of the data deluging many organizations has grown exponentially, but big data is about more than size. It requires organizations to consider the seemingly infinite sources of data and locations, all of which must be accounted for in company processes and technology.
Technology Can Handle Big Data
Advanced analytics will help companies extract actionable insight from data and support the move to predicting outcomes rather than solely reacting to situations. But organizations still need to prepare for making data-driven decisions by hiring the right people. And they need to develop structures for this new way of working.
Government Cannot Learn From The Private Sector
Government data management does differ from the private sector, but agencies can learn from businesses, Smith argues. Industries like financial services and retailing have been pioneers in the big data realm and can be sources of inspiration for agencies.
Big data Can Be Felled By A Silver Bullet
It’s impossible to find one solution to the big data challenge. Instead, organizations “need a suite of tools and platforms, processes and personnel to effectively collect, store, manage and draw insights from this data [and they] must adopt a continuous improvement mindset, where the big data roadmap is continuously reassessed and recalibrated,” Smith notes.
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