Competing With Data & Analytics
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Have you ever seen something that made you want to change the trajectory of your professional career?
Thomas C. Davenport has. Big data did it.
About two years ago, Davenport was considering retirement. In a long, distinguished career based at Babson College, Davenport had accomplished much of what he’d set out to do in the field of analytics. He had written or co-authored many well-regarded books including Competing on Analytics (Harvard Business Review Press, 2007) and Analytics at Work (Harvard Business Review Press, 2010), and was a pioneer in the study of business process reengineering. In the Ziff-Davis 2007 list of 100 most influential people in the IT industry, Davenport was the highest ranking business academic.
But, as Davenport explained while participating on a Big Data and Analytics panel at the MIT Sloan CIO symposium on May 22, big data came along and began to change the world he had been writing about and consulting about for decades.
What’s different about big data that would make a leading consultant and academic excited enough to hold off retirement? Here are seven highlights mentioned at the symposium:
- New tools are putting structure on so-called “unstructured” data like email and tweets.
- Big data is big business. Panelist James Noga, vice president and CIO at Partners Healthcare, said that in the US health care industry alone, the value of big data is $300 billion. Of that, $200 billion is in reduced expenses.
- Just-in-time data can prompt a flight attendant to offer a glass of champagne to the person in seat 21A, who the attendant’s airline-issued tablet says lost her luggage on a prior leg. This example came from panelist Shvetank Shah, executive director of the Corporate Executive Board.
- The field is hot and demands a crop of skilled workers. The gap between supply and demand for data scientists in the US could reach 190,000 by 2018, said panelist Michael Chui, a senior fellow at the McKinsey Global Institute. GE, for instance, is investing more than $2 billion in an analytics function for its industrial services and products, and is looking to fill hundreds of analytics positions that demand skills with business, statistics and big data tools.