Women: The New Power Behind Big Data Analytics

Rob Enderle
Slide Show

2014 Big Data Outlook: Opportunities and Challenges

It appears that, thanks to their dominance in marketing, women are becoming the go-to resource when it comes to selling and implementing Big Data analytics. This idea was reinforced last week, while I was chatting with Dell’s CMO, Karen Quintos, and when I moderated the session at Women In Technology International (WITI) on Big Data analytics.

The Not So Forgotten Part of Big Data Analytics

The focus for my opening remarks on Big Data analytics was on the sad reality that most firms selling and most buying are focused on the technology, not the problem. I provided examples, ranging from the NSA to when the Democrats won the last big election, which showcased the fallacy of focusing on the technology and suggested that Big Data analytics was stupid.

My point was that if you didn’t have someone that understood the problem that you were trying to solve with this massively expensive technology, the result would be an equally massive waste of money. Core to the success of this class of effort is someone who knows intimately that you need both an answer that is correct and one that is comprehensive enough so you can reach a timely decision.

In short, the goal of Big Data analytics isn’t implementing a huge repository or powerful new analytics package. It is to make better decisions. But if the folks implementing the technology have no idea about the nature of the decision, then the result will be worse than doing nothing. The system will consume massive resources and provide zero return for them.

Women at the Heart of the Solution

The largest effort surrounding Big Data analytics is the one covering advertising and marketing. This is because survey-based data analysis has a nearly universal value to this profession. The smart marketing executive has to deeply understand the metrics that surround her efforts, and the CMO ranks are dominated by women.

This means whether you are selling, buying, or implementing a solution that attempts to improve advertising or sales, a woman is more likely to be the ideal employee. Dell has, as a result, discovered its CMO Karen Quintos to be invaluable in not only helping it sell Big Data analytics solutions, but in implementing them as well, to assure the customer actually gets what they pay for. Quintos intimately knows what kind of information a CMO needs, and she knows the kinds of systems that work best to satisfy those needs, so she is invaluable in creating the product and in implementing it.

In case after case, Dell showcased that its customers looking at solutions like this were demanding time with Quintos. They would accept her word that Dell’s solution would work, and needed her help to assure that it did.

Her involvement has both increased Dell’s sales closing effectiveness and improved its customer satisfaction, but it has only one CMO. She, of course, actually has a set of full-time responsibilities, suggesting that Dell needs to create Quintos clones in order to increase dramatically the scale of this incredibly successful sales and support resource.

Wrapping Up: Women, the Power Behind Big Data Analytics

Actually, it isn’t just women, really, though thanks to a massive marketing focus, they are likely the most valuable resource at the moment. It is functional expertise. Data analytics is a tool used by decision makers with unique needs and it should be obvious that a critical resource in creating, selling and implementing this class of product is the experts in the functional area in which it is being implemented. If you were building a tool for a soldier, you’d have an experienced soldier (often retired) helping create, sell and implement your new weapon. Otherwise, that weapon not only wouldn’t sell, it would probably suck. So too with Big Data analytics. You need someone with the expertise to know what the customer actually wants, what they need, and how to use the tool to gain the greatest success.

In talking to Quintos, it is clear CMOs actually enjoy this more than doing their day job. Everyone and their brother generally thinks they can do that job better than a trained professional. In Big Data analytics sales, the CMO can showcase that their expertise exceeds that of many of their critics. In short, I also think their effectiveness with Big Data analytics is just a bit of payback to those engineers who think they are great marketers and suddenly find out just what it feels like to be on the other side of the critic coin.

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Jun 4, 2014 4:37 PM Meta S. Brown Meta S. Brown  says:
Rob, I'm delighted to read this. May I add that dominance in marketing is not the only reason why you encounter women in key Big Data analytics roles? Many people are unaware that the analytics fields have greater participation by women that any other science, tech, engineering and math field. Consider this tidbit: 41 of the world’s 190 statistical offices are headed by women. Visit any of the federal statistical agencies and you'll meet women everywhere. And yes, there are all those women doing data analysis for marketing and social science research. You can find many more statistics about women in analytics in my article, The STEM Profession that Women Dominate. ( http://bit.ly/smartdata030) But I've noticed that when the internet/tech community geeks decide to hold analytics conferences, they don't always invite women to speak! What's up with that? We've got to fix that. My way of encouraging analytics conference organizers to invite more women to speak is spreading the word about the many great women in analytics. So, each week, I profile 10 outstanding analytics experts who happen to be women. Meet them in Meta's Binder Fulla Women in Analytics: http://bit.ly/msblip Reply

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