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Author's profile photo Timo ELLIOTT

Run Simple Series: Big Data Challenges

New ways of finding the value in Big Data

In a recent interview with the technology journalist, David McClelland, I had the chance to reflect on where we are today with Big Data, and what challenges remain.

In the last few years, we’ve all had a chance to experiment with the technology and run pilot projects, and so we’ve learned more about what works and what doesn’t. We’re now in a new phase where we’re not just using Big Data to find new ways to do old things, we’re actually finding new things to do and new ways of creating value. Data is no longer just something that helps executives make better decisions — it’s becoming the foundation for the business models of the future.

This is leading to new roles, responsibilities, and organizational structures. We’re seeing the rise of new Chief Data Officers to lead the transformation of organizations based on data. And Data Scientists have become what Harvard Business Review calls ‘the sexiest job of the 21st century’.

Internal disruption is changing the game

Digital transformation means disruption inside companies. The separate silos of IT and business functions are breaking down and new teams are being created that work together on the new opportunities that Big Data offers.

One of the biggest challenges remains creating internal business cases for these types of transformations. As usual, it either has to be about cutting costs or finding new opportunities, but it’s hard to “know what you don’t yet know” in advance. Sandy Smollan’s excellent documentary The Human Face of Big Data has some wonderful examples of how Big Data is both providing new business opportunities and improving people’s lives.

Big Data Discovery is giving us new possibilities

I’m also excited by Big Data Discovery, which brings together three existing technologies: Big Data, Data Science and Data Discovery.  This combination gives us an easy-to use-tool that works with different types of information and with massive volumes of data, giving us even more new possibilities.

My industry colleague, Andy Bitterer from BARC, also had some interesting things to say to David about the importance of data quality and treating it as an asset. He sees the role of Chief Information Officer evolving into Chief Innovation Officer to reflect the importance of creativity in our data driven world. He takes a broad perspective on the uses of Big Data, describing how it goes well beyond customer information and can be put to all kinds of uses such as finding the optimum site for wind farms. It’s a great illustration of how we’re using Big Data to transform our world.

To watch the interviews and find out more about uncovering the value in Big Data and using it creatively, watch the Run Simple Show – Big Challenges for Organizations in 2015 at

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