What Big Data Will Mean for IT and Data Management

Loraine Lawson

Departmental silos will be a big challenge as organizations try to put Big Data to work, according to a recent report by the McKinsey Quarterly:

One big challenge is the fact that the mountains of data many companies are amassing often lurk in departmental silos,' such as R&D, engineering, manufacturing, or service operations-impeding timely exploitation. Information hoarding within business units also can be a problem: many financial institutions, for example, suffer from their own failure to share data among diverse lines of business, such as financial markets, money management, and lending.
Slide Show

The Business Impact of Big Data

Many business executives want more information than ever, even though they're already drowning in it.

However, in the long run, McKinsey contends Big Data could become "a new type of corporate asset that will cut across business units and functions much as a powerful brand does, representing a key basis for competition."


Already, some manufacturing companies are trying to eliminate line of business silos by:


  • Integrating data from multiple systems
  • Encouraging collaboration between units that were previously "walled-off"
  • Collaborating with external suppliers and customers to "co-create products"

The shift to Big Data won't just impact individual organizations, but will improve productivity across health care, government, retailing and manufacturing, which in turn could produce "hundreds of billions of dollars and euros in new value," predicts McKinsey.


CIOs can expect Big Data to also have a huge impact on how IT interacts with the rest of the company. That's because it will change how business users perceive data and use it.


In the past, IT worked primarily with finance to run reports, which were often used to justify decisions leaders had already made. That will change with Big Data, according to Erik Brynjolfsson, the Schussel Family Professor of Management Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management, director of the MIT Center for Digital Business, and a renown researcher on IT's impact on productivity. The McKinsey Quarterly interviewed Brynjolfsson, along with two other Big Data experts, for a second article focused on creating a game plan for Big Data.


" historically, that kind of data was used more to confirm and support decisions that had already been made, rather than to learn new things and to discover the right answer," Brynjolfsson told McKinsey. "The cultural change is for managers to be willing to say, You know, that's an interesting problem, an interesting question. Let's set up an experiment to discover the answer.'"


This new potential use of data means IT will spend more time working with marketing and customer relationship management business users because they have the biggest data needs, says Brynjolfsson.


"This is part of a broader revolution as we move from just financial numerical data toward all sorts of non-financial metrics," he said. "It's not just big data in the sense that we have lots of data. You can also think of it as nano' data, in the sense that we have very, very fine-grained data - an ability to measure things much more precisely than in the past. You can learn about the preferences of an individual customer and personalize your offerings for that particular customer."


Factiva recently studied how Big Data is impacting end-user roles. The study identified six emerging "data-savvy personas" that workers take on. Each persona is unique in its approach and use for data, and IT will need to be able to accommodate all those needs.


Frankly, reading these six roles, you soon realize that a self-serve model for data is the only real option as more organizations embrace the idea of data as a strategic advantage.


Another change that McKinsey says Big Data will bring for IT: You'll be expected to integrate data from the company's big systems - enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management and supply chain management - with business intelligence tools.

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Oct 15, 2011 10:07 AM Walter Roper Walter Roper  says:

Loraine Lawson

Dear Ms.Lawson:

I have written on this Website before because it is the only site that has mentioned about MDM - Master Data Management. Yes, it is both an art and a science. I have been studying and doing this MDM for sometime. I live in Austin, TX where there is a big IBM facility. There has been little discussion about MDM before seeing it in itbusiness edge. 

"Susan Hall" has a major piece about the issue along with a IBM Staffer. I mentioned MDM and some of the software surround it and I get looong stares. It doesn't seem the be the big buzz in the business like mobile computing and Adroids. And its as big or bigger. I have mentioned to some companies and they see one thing - it will cost money.Yet, they complain they can't get any reasonable handle on where there "customer data" is really at.

Major issue in this country!

Walter Earl Roper


University of Illinois


Sample credentials below ...


Cedar Park, TX 78614      




Database BI ?Biostatistician ?Data Modelin/MDM &Verification &SQL?Statistics ?Adaptable ? Face Adversity ?Persistence ?Multi Disciplined ?Tenacious, Job Done ?Clinical Trials

15 Year Successful Track Record as a Software Engineer executing critical, global / enterprise $100 Million Dollar executive level projects and fixing problems in Medical Profiling, Clinical Compound Discovery and Financial Spaces for Fortune 500 Companies at Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, EDS Medical/Health, EDS/GE &SAIC-Science Applications.

Delivered quantitative program metrics and qualitative solutions having direct business impact avoiding unnecessary and antiquated processes effecting users and customers.Expertise in data-modeling and warehousing, conversion, cleansing to meet increasing standards.Quantitative skills led east coast HMO to medical review gaining national press attention with BI tools.Expertise in Life Sciences, Statistical Outcomes to win FDA approval.Proven ability delivering next-generation solutions increasing revenues and productivity.


Platforms and Business &Languages:

JAVA/XML;.NET, Perl, UNIX, HTML, SDLC - Waterfall Method, ITIL, CRF's.

Programming, Data Bases &Tools:

SAS 9.2-Data Step/Proc Programming, BLAST, Oracle 10g, Oracle Clinical, SQL Server, T-SQL, Access, DB2, SQL;PL/SQL;UML, MDM, OLAP;ETL;COGNOS Express, Toad-ERD, Crystal, Reports/Analytics, Excel/Access , Kimball Data Warehousing (Star) , Eclipse/TextPad, HL7/CDISC, Formulary Reviews.


HP/EDS-Applications and Systems Administrator                             Reply

Oct 15, 2011 10:08 AM Walter Roper Walter Roper  says:

 Mission Critical Contract Component Agreement of EDS's $100 Million contract with BCBSMA, engineered database warehouse programmatic updates for statewide Medicare A &B reimbursement claims, ensuring compliance to SLA requirements avoiding large financial penalties maintaining financial/technical integrity.Gathered business solution claim information and captured large amounts of complex medical financial claims (risk pools) data to assess rates charges saving the HMO about $3 million over a 5+ year period.  

 EDS SED (Systems Engineering &Development) Program.

Designed algorithms extraction data from IBM mainframe, provided analysis of hidden trends, financial information, benchmarks, medical claims data and health demographics for the HMO that achieved a four-star rating for HMO-Blue noted in NEWSWEEK, June '96, achieving a Top 20 Rating and saving the HMO 25+%.                               



University of Illinois, B.A.Organizational Science             

University of Missouri at St.Louis, Web Database Programming Certificate

Master of Computer Science University of Illinois (Current Student, Began 1/2011)

Oct 18, 2011 6:15 PM Rob Armstrong Rob Armstrong  says:

Hi Loraine,

Good topic and I have two points to share.  First I will have to disagree that we have a new revolution of using data for more than just "justifying decisions that have already been made".  I think any competitive company has made the move from justifying the past to predicting the future many years ago, though I know there are still companies that are undertaking that challenge.

Many have tried to tackle the challenge with silo systems and this is where I will agree that "Big Data" certainly causes a new wrinkle to these solutions.  Companies that are trying to cross functional boundaries with data movement and cross platform data integration already face a large problem.  Adding the two hallmarks of "Big Data", volume and diversity, makes this distributed solution even harder to manage and use.  As the data gets bigger, the ability to replicate across platforms or to move data between system for analytics becomes unfeasible.

Big data is the next wave of turning data into action.  Having the solid foundation of data integration and understanding the value of having data accessible to the business will allow companies to ride this wave to yet more insights and competitive advantage.

Keep blogging!


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