How Big Data Makes Me Smarter
Big Data is a phenomenon that’s impacting just about every business these days.
In May 2011, Jeanette Horan was appointed Chief Information Officer of IBM. Ms. Horan’s organization supports operational excellence and drives IBM’s transformation agenda – focusing on business transformation, workforce transformation, and IT transformation. Her organization is responsible for equipping IBMers with the technology and tools they need to better support clients and achieve IBM’s objectives. Ms. Horan leads the development and implementation of a technology strategy aligned with the business that meets both the growth and productivity commitments of IBM’s 2015 roadmap.
Previously Ms. Horan was the vice president of Enterprise Business Transformation. In this role, Ms. Horan led IBM’s transformation program for key back office processes to accelerate IBM’s leadership as a globally integrated enterprise. In partnership with IBM’s Global Business Services and SAP, she led a multi-disciplinary, global team deploying simplified business processes worldwide.
Ms. Horan joined IBM in 1998, and has held leadership positions within the Lotus brand, Information Management and IBM Software Group Strategy. Prior to joining the CIO office in 2006, Ms. Horan was responsible for worldwide product development for the Information Management business in Software Group, and was the General Manager of IBM’s Silicon Valley Laboratory.
Prior to joining Lotus, Ms. Horan spent four years with Digital Equipment Corporation where she was vice president of development for the AltaVista business, bringing the Web search engine and suite of intranet products to market. She has more than 25 years experience in development and management roles in the computer industry.
As part of her business and personal involvement in the advancement of technology and service to the community, Ms. Horan serves on the board of Microvision Inc., an innovative display and imaging solutions company. She also serves as a director on the board of Jane Do No More Inc., an organization committed to improving the way society responds to victims of sexual assault.
Big Data is, I think, a phenomenon that’s impacting just about every business these days. And as we look at all of the data that we have – just think about it for a moment. We have data about the marketplace that might come from industry analysts like Milt Gartner or Forrester. We have economic reports that talk about where people are expecting to spend money and make capital expenditures on things like IT.
We have geographic information. We have a lot of external data that we can draw on. But we also have a lot of internal data. We have information about purchase history from customers. We have information about what they’re still using. We have information about how often do they refresh hardware. We have information that comes from our own discussions with them about what’s important to some of our big clients. What are their strategies? Where are they trying to go?
We have all of these vast amounts of information and what we’re really trying to do is to figure out how can we make that information available in a way that’s consumable to our business. So just think for example if you’re a sales operations manager as an example, and you have a challenge. You have a number of salespeople on your team but how are you going to optimally deploy those across the opportunity? You know, do I assign three people to a big client? Do I assign them to a number of different small to medium business accounts? How am I going to optimize my revenue using these salespeople that I have?
And that is a classic kind of sort of big data challenge and problem. Because what you want to do is you want to marry all of these disparate sources of data and to be able to come up with an algorithm that says I can optimally place them in different places.
So one of the things that my team has done, and within IT, is to build an environment – think of it as being an internal Cloud where we deploy technologies such as Cognos for business reporting and analytics. SPSS which is the statistical analysis packages that we can deploy into this Cloud environment. We can provide all of this wealth of information that we have, connect it to that environment and then we can work with the business to say, “Okay, what business problems do you have? How can you now start to analyze all of this data to be able to find answers to that.
So I gave you one example in the sales deployment question which is a very numerical analysis. You know, I’ve got all these facts and figures and I’m trying to come up with an algorithm. Now if you’re more into the marketing team a lot of the information and data you have actually is not numbers, it’s text. It’s information. What are people saying about us on social media? Y
How can you mine that information so that again you can identify trends, you know, as sentiment – all of a sudden going from very positive to very negative. Is there something that we’re seeing more discussion out there about maybe we did a new product announcement. Is there something that’s happening there?
Now the marketing team can look at that kind of information and determine the effectiveness of different marketing programs. Are people getting the message? Are they out there talking about things. These are examples of how we’re trying to bring both that internal data, the external data, the structured data in terms of rows and columns and numbers – marrying that with text data as well providing much, much richer analytic experience.
In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.
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