In a new Q&A, NewVantage Partners cofounder Randy Bean reveals how veterans of big data management are dealing with the new era of Big Data.
Fortune 500 companies are rushing to make big data investments. Who is leading this charge? What are they doing? What are they trying to avoid? A recent survey of C-level and function heads from Fortune 500 companies offers a unique glimpse into how the captains of industry are thinking about big data and how their companies are changing because of new insights gleaned from big data analyses. Randy Bean, a coauthor of the survey and cofounder of NewVantage Partners, which sponsored the study, sat down with David Kiron, executive editor of MIT Sloan Management Review's Big Ideas initiatives, to discuss how top executives at some of the largest companies and organizations in the United States are managing big data.
Tell us about the survey and who you focused on.
We conducted the survey in June and July of 2012. It came out of our executive thought leadership breakfasts and dinners, where we bring together CIOs, CTOs, chief marketing officers and the chiefs of analytics from Fortune 500 companies.
The survey was biased to organizations that have participated in our executive discussions. About 53% were financial services firms, which include banking, asset management firms and major credit card companies. Another 19% were insurance firms. If you put those numbers together, almost three-quarters of survey participants were from some form of financial services firms.
All of the respondents were senior executives in the C-suite or a level or two below. So, this was a unique perspective on what top executives in very large companies are thinking about big data. We had over 50 senior executives complete a very detailed set of 65 questions.
Part of the motivation for doing the survey was that we had heard from many of those surveyed that they wanted to know what their peers were doing in terms of big data. Was big data a real phenomenon across their industry? What kinds of investments were organizations making in big data? What type of applications were they looking at? And did they have people with the right skills to execute big data initiatives or did they need to find people with these skills?
What was the big overall message from the survey?
There were several key themes.
One was the promise of improved data-driven decision making. Everybody agreed on that in principle.