Demystifying Big Data

By Bill Schmarzo

The Dean of the University of San Francisco School of Management, Elizabeth Davis, recently asked me to sit on a Big Data panel at the Direct Sales Association conference. I was given a 5-minute slot to “demystify” Big Data to a non-technical group of about 1,000 people; to help them understand where and how this thing called “Big Data” could help them.

Well if you know me, I can barely introduce myself in 5 minutes. But this was particularly challenging for me, as I’m used to talking about Big Data with organizations with at least some level of Big Data experience or understanding (maybe they should get my second book – the “Big Data MBA” – and start there!).

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So I accepted the challenge, and here is what I said (and yes, I did it within the 5-minute window).

Myth #1: Every Business needs a Big Data strategy.

Reality #1: You don’t need a Big Data strategy; you need a business strategy that incorporates Big Data.

While that may sound like a “play on words,” to be success with Big Data requires a different perspective – a business-first perspective.  Whether that’s optimizing a key business process or uncovering new monetization opportunities or creating a more compelling customer experience, the opportunities to drive and derive business value with Big Data are everywhere. In fact, organizations do not fail with Big Data because of a lack of business opportunities; they fail because they have too many. It’s a focus and prioritization problem.

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