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see you good day

Prospector

@Jeanne, thx!

Prospector

Thank you

 

Prospector

Thank you Jeanne!

Prospector

Signing off here -- all the best to everybody! 

Blogger

@Jeanne - Thank you!

Prospector

"a chief analytics officer might evolve out of IT's own evolution", that makes sense. But it is clear that evolution shoud be speed up, right?

Prospector

Thank you all for your participation!

Prospector

Well Jeanne, I think we're just about out of time. I want to thank you for sharing your fantastic insight. I also want to thank all of our participants, vocal or not. And, I'd like to invite folks to take an MIT SMR survey on how they're dealing with the big-data deluge. You can do that here

Blogger

..

No more questions, but I cerainly want to thank Jeanne for spending all this time to share her knowledge and insights. I still can't get all that musty old "just in case" data out of my mind...

Blogger

Could happen, Beth.

Prospector

@Lyndon - that makes more sense now!

Prospector

@Jeanne, I was thinking a chief analytics officer might evolve out of IT's own evolution, in better learning business and determining data's value

Blogger

I am catching up now!

Prospector

..

Jeanne writes

>>

 If we have an app that can help us address very specific questions from massive amounts of unstructured data, we have something that could be valuable. I've been imagining more general data mining efforts.

<<

This is more the kind of "killer app" thing I've had in mind. The app developer would need to look over samples of the data, detect possible patterns for value, agree on a strategy with the organization, and then write an app that would yield valuable results. Hopefully, the results would not just add to the growing mountain of junk data...

Blogger

For most companies, the time for the chief analytics officer has not arrived. They'll end up going fishing for projects of dubious value, in my opinion.

Prospector

As we're closing in on the hour mark, does anybody have any burning questions left for Jeanne (or each other)?

Blogger

Top companies know how to determine what has business value. They demand a strong business case for every project and they check at every milepost whether that business value case is still solid and then they check afterwards if they got the value. It helps them decide what is and isn't worth pursuing. This is a learning process that will be valuable in the analytics space.

Prospector

MicroStrategy has been doing a lot of work in the Social Analytics space. Their "Wisdom" app allow you to mine Facebook data and analyze social trends. They have some interesting examples, such as determining marketing opportunities based on "Likes" across many people, pages, and products.

Prospector

We hear from time to time of a "chief analytics officer." What's your position on such a role?

Blogger

@BethSchultz, there's room for competitors to leapfrog the top firms just by implementing a more comprehensive data function company-wide.  There's no limit on tech advances and just one misstep can change the leaderboard.  Do RIM & Nokia have the best analytics in their industry?  I think not.

Prospector

@CemChase I think IT units are taking more of a leadership role in identifying what is and isn't valuable. As they do so, they are less run by business requests and they learn a lot about whawt drives business value--and what doesn't.

Prospector

@Jeanne, the case study sounds interesting. I always love reading about (or better yet talking to) companies about how they're applying analytics. 

Blogger

We have a nice case study on how Trinity Health (a hospital conglomerate) has been building an analytics capability. It's been a long journey. If you're interested, send me an email (jross@mit.edu), and i'll send you the case.

Prospector

Jeanne, who should spearhead making sense of structured or unstructured data analysis. IT? IT is typically run by Business requests.

Prospector

I think the companies that are findings lots of value in analytics have lots of transaction data, because it affords so many opportunities for analysis. So i expect that retailers like Wal-Mart, Amazon and Target are ahead of most companies in most industries.

Prospector

Beth, the social data that companies collect about themselves must be hugely valuable. I do wonder what kind of analysis that data supports. You can imagine that there are opportunities there.

Prospector

@egerter -- yes, but I suspect even those top companies would say it's really still early days in terms of their understanding of analytics potential and the data they possess. No?

Blogger

Nice example Lyndon. But different from some of the data mining that we were talking about, I think. If we have an app that can help us address very specific questions from massive amounts of unstructured data, we have something that could be valuable. I've been imagining more general data mining efforts.

Prospector

Jeanne, a lot of companies seem to be spending lots of effort in understanding what's being said on the social networks about them and their brands, so a particular type of unstructured data. Given your description of sacred data and what you've said about unstructured data, I have to ask how you feel about trying to glean sentiments and what-not from social data .... 

Blogger

I think the top companies in every sector have gone well beyond simple analytics and obvious transactional reporting.  They'll have dozens of analytical models covering all aspects of their business and will have initiatives to analyze new data sets, regardless of their (un)structure, source or size.

Prospector

..

Beth asks about my experience with old data. Well, yes. Transit agency historical records from the founding of the agency. Needed to solve problems, answer critics. Unfortunately, almost entirely paper (yuk). But absolutely essential in answering key questions 15-20 years later. Hard to sort through, some of it still in my brain. Nice killer app would be great, one that could sift through boxes of paper...

But, the same thing could happen with Digital Age records. You know, all those docs entered in WordStar and Lotus 1-2-3?

 

Blogger

As Jeanne mentioned earlier, it's all about teasing the value out of the data. That ability will likely represent a strategic advantage in the future.

Prospector

Yes, the Target example is really interesting, and i'd agree that is a strategic asset.

Prospector

@danmeier -- right, Target was none too happy about have the information on its predictive capabilities become public knowledge -- and if not for public sentiment reasons than for competitive ones!

Blogger

There has been a lot of discussion of structured versus unstructured data, and the consensus is out on the value of optimizing toward heavy undirected analysis of unstructured data. So what does it mean to get better at structuring data? That seems far more subtle and dynamically proactive than simply defining tags /labels / object models extensible to future data sets. What will real progress look like there? Will it be tied more closely to enterprise needs?

Prospector

I'd not thought of them as strategic assets myself until recently. I think certainly strong predictive models would fall under that category though.

Blogger

Analytics models ARE strategic assets!. A few weeks ago the NYTimes had a great article about Target using their vast data to pre-market to pregnant women...some of whom hadn't even acknowledge publicly that they were pregnant yet. That's a powerful capability, and one that Target was most interested in protecting.

Prospector

@Beth - we are trying to get there, but in a business that has relied on paper for over 100 years! No analytics as of yet - only small analysis of specific data sets.

Prospector

Hmm. I never thought of analytics models as assets because they have a finite life in most cases, but i may be thinking of too restrictive a sample.

Prospector

Sacred data is the transaction data that helps you know your customers, products, suppliers, and that has obvious value when analyzed. I think if we start there instead of looking for big, glitzy things, we'll learn how to drive value and then we can get a bit fancier.

Prospector

@Jeanne -- actually, everybody -- what are your thoughts on analytics models as strategic assets? Do you think they are -- or at least those helping a company realize great value from its data?

Blogger

Or better still, someone who has strong business AND IT/analytics skills...

Prospector

@Lyndon, my point is more from the structure of the data store (database - IT side)

Prospector

One CIO said that she found downloaded videos from uTube. It does start to get expensive after awhile. This is really an issue of educating users.

Prospector

Unfortunately, I do have a packrat impulse. Personal quirk...

Blogger

@PredictableChaos, I think that "strong IT person" who knows analytics needs to be embedded in the business and report to the business.  I've seen a lot of talent locked up on the IT side that could be generating a ton more business value if they worked directly for the front-line business leaders.

Prospector

..

Jeanne, of all that stockpiled, out-of-control data ... is it mainly internal to the organizations studied, or does some include Big Data gathered via data-minining techniques, e.g., Facebook skimming, etc.?

Blogger

@Jeanne, right "sacred data." Can you give us some examples?

Blogger

Yes, @Lydon. I am being a bit extreme. But i do think people need to ask more questions about what data is really important to their companies. Then they'll put resource into using it well.

Prospector

@Lyndon_Henry -- why? Do you have an experience to share?

Blogger

In the article, we talk about sacred data and unstructure data that is critical to structured processes. I think we can lose that very valuable data if we believe that all data needs to be safed somewhere.

Prospector

@egerter - For data analytics to work requires a strong IT person together with someone from the buisiness side who is willing to work at explaining and re-explaining what reports, what information would be most helpful.  Where i've seen this work, there is a lot of back and forth to get to the summary reports that are actually helpful.

Data Doctor

..

I would be rather careful about disparaging old data...

Blogger

@Jeanne -- so, not to be trite, but analyzing unstructured data is sort of like putting the cart before the horse? (Which really applies to analyzing structured data without understanding the purpose, too, of course).

 

Blogger

I questions whether storing data until we figure out how to use it means we are storing data that will be irrelevant by the time we analyze it. Someone once told me that NASA hadn't kept some old records on how they build early rockets--they thought that was a problem. I can't imagine we lost anything valuable there.

Prospector

@Lyndon, if you don't do that upfront though, you may loose the information that could be obtained from the data because it may be so disparate, making correlation very difficult

Prospector

I think applying analytics to unstructured data is pointless if we don't understand strategic priorities. We can learn cool things; they just aren't like to have a purpose.

Prospector

..

Jeanne, it sourt of sounds like you're suggesting organizations implement a strategy for evaluating and storing their data. Good idea. But a lot of the time, the data are pouring in, and it's maybe years before somebody looks are figures out how it should have been organized. 

Blogger

@Beth, I would try to get value from data analytics and accompanying technologies by identifying one business process that my company thought was critical to long-term success. Then i'd ask waht data it depends on, and then i'd get good operational data, and then i'd get analysts of all kinds to understand what is going on.

Prospector

@Jeanne, well that's provocative! Why is that? Meaning, we do you think applying analytics to unstructured data is a waste of money?

Blogger

@Lyndon - our "just in case" is paper or scanned documents that cannot be converted to machine-readable format

Prospector

IT needs data curators, people who understand how to capture, store, document and disseminate data sets.  Getting these data sets in front of business analysts is key to getting value from them.  Having IT do analysis themselves is a losing scenario; they don't know the business as it stands today and their analytics tend toward simple counts and correlations.  The business side (at the department level) has the field of vision to understand current challenges and will need data (properly analyzed) to support their budget requests.

Prospector

Yes, applying analytics to unstructured data is a Big Thing but i think it's mostly a waste of money.

Prospector

@Jeanne, yes, that's a good way to place it in context, the gradual building of capabilities.

Blogger

..

I'd certainly assume the "just in case" data is unstructured (e.g., Emails, old reports, whatever) but applying analytics to unstructured data is surely today's Big Thing.

Blogger

We have been thinking that things like semantic webs etc were going to solve the lack of business focus and discipline for a long time. I can't imagine an app that simply "finds" the value in all our data that is lying around. We still need to know what we're trying to do.

Prospector

@PredictableChaos -- I like that "paving a cowpath"

Blogger

Jeanne, given all the problems IT/enterprise data architects/analysts, etc. have in dealing with the data companies have today, what's your advice for how to approach the data of tomorrow -- the more complex and unstructured data increasingly gathered. Do they start from scratch? Bring in new technologies like Hadoop? Or build off of what they have in place today?

Blogger

Oh, OK. So i think there's a gradual building of capabilities. Companies aren't likely to use predictive analytics well until they have good "habits" around business processes and customer relationships. You can analyze anything but whether you get good output or can make changes based on that output assumes some level of organizational maturity around business processes.

Prospector

@Lyndon - a lot of times the "just in case" data is unstructured, making it next to impossible for an app to sort through

Prospector

Automating a process, without streamlining it first?  I've seen a lot of that.  The nickname is we're "paving the cowpath".

Data Doctor

I keep thinking there must be some kind of opportunity for analytics whizkids to think up killer apps to sift through all that "just in case" data... 

Amazing what you can glean from data, even decades old, if you have some purpose and identify the pattern for extracting value...

Blogger

Jeanne, well, I can't find James' "official" definition of a DMS but in essence he's talking about a next-generation information management system that combines and applies predictive analytics, optimization and intelligent business rules to help companies automate certain types of decisions. 

 

Blogger

I have studied enterprise architecture for a long time and i noted the huge potential for business value from business process standardization. But many companies don't get nearly as much value as they think they will after they put in their ERP or CRM because they don't reassign responsibilities. So often the problem is that they never clean up or use the data that these systems make possible. So i've started studying data.

 

Prospector

Jeanne, how do you see a decision management system working with managing SDLC?

Prospector

Jeanne, how did you get interested in this whole area of big-data?

 

Safe, meaning they dispose of old data on a regular basis due to regulatory or legal concerns, or limit access to data due to concerns about theft or disclosure.  Companies that can navigate these concerns and keep their historical record intact have a higher potential for learning and competitive advantage.

Prospector

I'm intrigued by the safe versus innovation argument. Couldn't a company be data safe but product and process innovative?

Prospector

..

I'm kinds fascinated by the notion that lots of organizations are stockpiling these landfills of "just in case" data (probably mostly unstructured) in something like a giant cyber-basement.

 

Blogger

Jeanne, we're written a bit about formalized decision management systems here -- a term promoted by James Taylor in a book I think by the same name. Let me dig out his formalized definition ...

Blogger

Right, i don't think IT has been hiring analysts, but some may well be starting to do so.

Prospector

Oops, meant formalized decision management, not data management, Beth

Prospector

IT lacks the analitical skill, don't you think Jeanne?

Prospector

I'm trying to imagine a formalized data management system. There are some decision rules that we can build into automated systems--and it's good to keep people simply as oversight for when quirky things happen. Then there are people decisions that rely on rules, but i'm not sure they are formalized. Am i understanding you?

Prospector

@Lyndon: perhaps the Just-in-Case mentality arises precisely because it seems many companies may not have enough data to enable a "killer app" to assume that role just yet.

Prospector

@egerter: re your point, "companies that  value "safe" over innovation are risking being blind-sided by more technology-adept competitors that do keep all of their data and find ways to extract value from it" -- I'd argue that they risk being blindsided period, even by those companies that aren't keeping all their data!

Blogger

Ah, the ideal analytics employee is a number of people. For the Big Data issues like engineering control systems or supply chains, get experts who understand statistics, logic, and biological systems. You also need data architects, and domain experts. It takes a team. They all need communications skills.

Prospector

@Beth - I agree with that

Prospector

..

Seems to me, if there's value in those stored landfills of data, somebody should be able to figure out some kind of algortihm ("killer app") to sift through it and extract the value...

Blogger

Jeanne, regarding your point about this being an operational issue -- I would imagine a formalized decision management system would go a long way toward helping out on that end?

Blogger

I don't think we "accidentally" get value fromd data that happens to be around. We get value from knowing what customer intimacy or efficiency or whatever goals will make a difference and then finding specific data that helps us understand what we've got.

Prospector

Jeanne can you describe the ideal anayltics employee? Is it someone math oriented, technically inclined, computer savvy, creative? Or something else or all of the above?

Companies that value "safe" over innovation are risking being blind-sided by more technology-adept competitors that do keep all of their data and find ways to extract value from it.

Prospector

The thing about data is that we tend to think the big opportunity is data mining and analytics. I really think it's more operational than that. Get data into the hands of people who make daily operating decisions, arm them with good business rules, and you can see a big business impact.

Prospector

In a lot of the healthcare industries, paper has played a large part, as companies are slowing moving to EHR systems - but change can be very difficult in this area.

Prospector

IT tends to have a service-provider mentality and isn't often willing to step up to the table to be an equal partner in the business. Unfortunate, as this results in much waste and many lost opportunities.

Prospector

Storage is cheap, but finding stored data can be a nightmare today unless you know where the data is stored. We need a better object tagging system to help us find years-olds (or months) hidden nuggets. Jeanne and others, would you agree?

Blogger

And so much more expensive to store than digital copies!

We didn't ask about paper, but i'm sure it's true in many companies--and that is certainly a legal (and fire) risk.

Prospector

IT governance bodies should drive entriprise data retention policies by setting the templates and working with individual application domains to ensure compliance just like IT Risk etc. But data usually gets left out somehow.

 

Prospector

I don't think that an analytics team can reside exclusively in IT unless you move domain experts into IT. The boundaries between IT and business are fading and this is one area where that will lead to huge benefits.

Prospector

@Lyndon, I can tell you from experience in a public sector position that a good bit of data is routinely deleted. I can also tell you volumes of it are still stashed away - often in paper form.

@Jeanne, do many companies still have vast archives of paper documents?

From a cost perspective, it can make sense to simply keep everything rather than deciding what to keep. Storage is cheap. Employee time to make judgments is expensive.

Prospector

@Mitch_Wagner -- that's just what I said! Re: the disconnect. Great minds, as they say., :-)

 

Blogger

It's nice to hear that financial services is getting this right. The risk management issue may well far outweigh cost issues.

Prospector

Jeanne, in the article you talk about IT being a good data steward and that business needs to take a leadership position here. Where does the analytics team — sometimes positioned within IT, sometimes in the business, and sometimes independent — fit into all of this?

Blogger

Liability fears will lead many organizations to simply delete everything quickly, which creates its own problems.

Prospector

IT doing things "just in case" speaks to a disconnect between IT and business.

Prospector

..

Re: differences between public and private sector ... Public sector agencies are under more public and political pressure to reveal organizational info. They tend to get into more trouble if they trash Emails from 25 years ago, than a  private business. So, just wondering about aspects like that...

Blogger

I think @danmeier and @egerter are spot on. And cheaper storage will just make it worse, as big-data companies keep promising that you will discover the long-lost secret to instant customer satisfaction if you just have enough data and ask the right question. Kind of astrology.

Prospector

I don't think killer apps can help companies focus on strategic priorities.

Prospector

The great companies are focused on strategic priorities and the data and processes that will help them achieve those priorities. We are seeing that at companies like USAA, P&G, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, etc.

Prospector

..

From what Jeanne is saying, I'd wonder if some of the possible "killer apps" might try to find ways to sift through old data and winnow out the valuable from the disposable...

Blogger

I don't know if public sector organizations have different habits. Would you expect a difference?

Prospector

Jeanne, I absolutely agree lots of companies are barely scratching the surface in reaping value from their data. We consistently hear that data is hard to find, misused, of poor quality, etc., etc.

Blogger

Yes, i think that's right. It's not clear that the packrat mentality is a problem except for potential legal liabilities. So i think we need good direction on that and we probably shouldn't worry about the rest.

Prospector

Working for a financial industry, data retention policies have been very clear. So it has been easy to decide when to indefinitely store, 7 yrs, 10yrs, etc. However, in other I worked for "just in case" was killing system performance if not creating liability.  

Prospector

Greetings, AAers!

Prospector

Difficult for an IT department somewhat divorced from the business side to make the determination that a particular data set is not "worth keeping".  With cheap storage (1 PB = $100K), it's easier to just store everything and maybe someone someday will find something of value.

Prospector

I think the  packrat mentality is all about potential missed opportunities initially. Later, it may be that it's hard to sort and distinguish the valuable from the rest.

Prospector

..

Jeanne, did your study also examine public-sector practices, and detect any differences from the private sector?

 

Blogger

IT doesn't have the business knowledge to decide what data is relevant, and the business users don't have the time or inclination to analyze what they really need. The result: "store everything just in case."  They figure it out as they go along. The problem is that the business users never go back to review the data they're storing that they've found they don't need.

Prospector

You would think companies would establish schedules for storing and deleting data -- for these very reasons. And some do. But how do you catch every version of a document? People tend to make copies of copies -- for safekeeping.

No one is measuring the value at most of these firms. I think the safest estimate is that there isn't any. What do you think?

Prospector

Jeanne, how much of that packratting of data is due to fear that a competitor will glean some advantage, once it starts running big-data searches for key customer trends?

Prospector

We are starting to see the creation of data management departments but their mission isn't yet clear. I would recommend starting with a workflow department. First figure out who is using what data for what and then you can manage the data and the flows.

Prospector

@Jeanne, as I read through the article, I found it a bit curious that IT execs were supposing that the business wasn't getting enough value of the data. How are they making that determination? 

Blogger

Email opens so many doors during discovery in potential litigation. Storing it indefinitely seems counterproductive.

 

Yes, i think people increasingly believe that storing too much creates a legal risk, but getting rid of anything that a company is legally required to keep is also an issue. Most lawyers know what is necessary; i don't think most people in their companies do.

Prospector

Do you see more companies going to a Data management department that bridges the gap between IT data stored and the business use of data?

Prospector

A "just in case" item would be extensive transaction records--just in case we want to analyze who is buying what (10 years ago) or massive amounts of email because we can't figure out legally whether we're better off with too much or too little.

Prospector

From a legal standpoint, does storing "everything" create unnecessary liability for companies, especially if they fail to follow clear archival processes for storage and deletion?

@Jeanne, I would think doing cloud-based data studies with a simple credit card authorization (versus a 9-month IT server farm implementation) would have quite of bit of impact.

Prospector

Right, Rodney. I think we're not sure that cloud will be cheaper for data that we may never need. I personally pay monthly for storage of stuff that i probably should have thrown away. That would certainly be the cheaper alternative.

Prospector

@Jeanne, when you say IT has "little interest in taking the time or risk to identify data that is expendable" that smacks of the age-old problem of having a disconnect between IT and the business. Does the arrival of "big-data" exacerbate that problem, in your opinion?

Blogger

..

Jeanne. can you give any examples of what kinds of "just in case" data businesses are storing?

 

Blogger

Yes, Noreen, I think companies typically lack focus and that's why they store data without understanding its purpose.

Prospector

That seems to be a selling point for the cloud vendors Jeanne - cheaper IT than do-it-yourself. That should lead to a value return to the companies, but maybe it really is just the first inning, and no one is really sure how the game will play out. But they still have to play it.

Prospector

The management practice most often mentioned was just better tiering and archiving. There is little interest in taking the time or risk to identify data that is expendable. So IT units are just trying to minimize the cost without losing anything.

Prospector

@Jeanne, then keeping with the cloud angle -- does storing data "just in case" get easier or become less of an issue, I should say, if we can do so on cloud infrastructure? 

Blogger

@Jeanne, why are IT depts storing so much extraneous data? Do they lack an enterprise directive about strategy and direction?

Jeanne -- that is a big issue -- meaning, saving data "just in case" -- especially as the volumes keep swelling so. I can't imagine coming to an answer is easy to do. What did some of the folks you studied have to say about how to come to a resolution?

Blogger

I love the question about the cloud impact. I don't actually think the cloud will have an impact on the value question. I think that companies manage and use data well--or not. The cloud is another tool for storing and accessing. Would you expect an impact, Rodney?

Prospector

Not really. But it surprised us that IT units were working so hard to store data that no one seemed to have any need for. There is a lot of work going on "just in case."

Prospector

@Jeanne, so the study became more about how companies get value from their data, not so much from IT in general? If so, how does the use of the cloud affect that?

Prospector

The MIT SMR article was great; very informative. Why did that surprise you? Did you assume businesses were in fact deriving lots of value from their data?

Blogger

Initially, we were interested in learning how IT people managed data, but the interesting learning was mostly around how businesses struggled to drive value from that data.

Prospector

We have done a number of studies on the topic of data, analytics, and what we call "working smarter." The study on which our SMR article was base involved interviews at 26 companies who we thought would have big data needs.

Prospector

I think we can wait another couple of minutes for folks to join us. But as they do, would you like to provide a bit of background on the study and its starting point?

Blogger

Thanks for arranging this.

Prospector

Hi Jeanne, welcome! Glad you could make it. 

Blogger

We're counting down here to today's e-chat with Jeanne, who will be joining at the top of the hour. Anybody else here yet?

Blogger

Hello to all

Prospector

Mark your calendars for an e-chat here on Thursday, June 28, at 4 p.m. ET. We'll be talking with Jeanne Ross, director of MIT Sloan School of Management's Center for Information Systems Research, on how to find value in the information explosion.

At the CISR, Jeanne directs and conducts academic research that targets the challenges of senior-level executives at the center's more than 80 global sponsor companies. Besides her work at the CISR, Jeanne also teaches in MIT Sloan's Transforming Your Business Through IT Executive Education Course. 

Join in the conversation!

 

 


Blogger


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