Where are we today with big data analytics?


Bill Hakes, Link Analytics

Bill Hakes, CEO and Co-founder of Link Analytics, is on a mission to get people excited about big data and big data analytics. Speaking to a room full of statisticians, analysts and mathematicians at the Analytics 2012 conference in Vegas, he says, “Our mission should be to get the marketers, the executives and the people with budgets to get really excited about big data analytics.”

To illustrate the proliferation of data, Hakes offers a photographic walk through his day that begins with a wake up alarm of Pandora music, a check of email in bed on his iphone and a quick glimpse news on his ipad while brushing his teeth. From there, he steps on his smart scale, empties his smart dishwasher and heads to the gym and then the coffee shop, continuing to check the Web and his email on his smart phone along the way. He's not even to work yet and he has already interacted with dozens of cites, a handful of different ISPs, multiple devices .... and so on. That's a whole lot of data.

Hakes describes big data as a storage issue with a larger analytical component: “Storage is here. Volume is cheap. The next big question is: what are you going to do with all that big data?” He says big data analytics is the answer.

Where are we headed with big data analytics? First, Hakes says big data analytics is disruptive because it revolutionizes the connection of data. Take market research, for example. Phone surveys are being replaced by big data available on social networks. The idea of joining social data from outside with data from inside the firm is new and exciting for analysts.

This disruption does not end within traditional companies, however. We are now seeing a new ecosystem of companies emerge to deal with big data analytics, and we are also seeing what Hakes describes as "the accidental data company." He sites Pandora and Facebook as examples of companies that were originally designed to do one thing (provide music and connect friends, respectively) but have grown to become full-fledged data companies as well.

Along with all of this disruption, Hakes predicts a rise of the chief analytics officer inside organizations. “We think this is necessary to handle where analytics is headed,” he says. “If you don’t elevate this stuff to the CEO level, it’s going to fall short.”

Absent a chief analytics role, “Who is going to run analytics strategy in an organization?” asks Hakes. Should it be the data guy, the strategy guy or the hardware guy? And should he report to the CIO or CTO? The chief analytics officer and her organization would help overcome the inefficiencies of this power struggle.

“You have to embed analytics into the corporate DNA,” says Hakes, “and articulate a vision above and below. If the chief analytics officer doesn’t do that, who will?”

Finally, Hakes advocates stronger partnerships between business and academia. He cites programs from North Carolina State University, the University of Alabama and others that are graduating students in very high demand in the industry. The benefits for academia are strong as well, giving the education system insight into the problems that business faces and access to the latest technologies.

If you aren’t convinced by the predictions above, consider the video Hakes played for the audience. It’s definitely compelling.

Tags big data

About Author

Alison Bolen

Editor of Blogs and Social Content

+Alison Bolen is an editor at SAS, where she writes and edits content about analytics and emerging topics. Since starting at SAS in 1999, Alison has edited print publications, Web sites, e-newsletters, customer success stories and blogs. She has a bachelor’s degree in magazine journalism from Ohio University and a master’s degree in technical writing from North Carolina State University.

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