Big Data in Big Companies: Tom Davenport and Jill Dyche on their Latest Research


From the executive summary of the research report (PDF): “Big data may be new for startups and for online firms, but many large firms view it as something they have been wrestling with for years. Some managers appreciate the innovative nature of big data, but more find it “business as usual” or part of a continuing evolution toward more data. However, they are still struck by the lack of structure of the data and the opportunity/cost ratio of big data technologies.

There are also continuing–if less dramatic—advances from the usage of more structured data from sensors and operational data gathering devices. Companies like GE, UPS, and Schneider National are increasingly putting sensors into things that move or spin, and capturing the resulting data to better optimize their businesses. Even small benefits provide a large payoff when adopted on a large scale.

Like many new information technologies, big data can bring about dramatic cost reductions, substantial improvements in the time required to perform a computing task, or new product and service offerings. Like traditional analytics, it can also support internal business decisions. Most of the companies we interviewed had a specific benefit in mind. Each benefit choice has implications for the leadership of the big data initiative and the way that benefits are managed.”