IOD Dispatch: Big opportunities from big data and analytics
Delaney Turner 270003RQ8K Delaney.Turner@ca.ibm.com | | Tags:  ibmsoftware information-insights
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Big opportunities for better outcomes dominated the opening general session as Information On Demand 2012 moved on to day two.
A kickoff video showcasing successful IBM customers Dillard's, Moneygram and Del Monte opened attendees' eyes to the transformative power of big data harnessed and acted upon.
First, attendees heard how retailer Dillard's improved customer relationships through a more effective CRM system and improved productivity across its multiple lines of business.
Next, they heard how money transfer leader Moneygram cut fraudulent transactions by 72 percent to save more than $62 million.
They also learned how Del Monte reduces risk and increases efficiency by applying predictive analytics to weather patterns and global trends.
Video concluded, host Jason Silva took the stage and once again provided a thoughtful, near-philosophical context to help attendees orient and attune themselves to the discussions to come throughout the day.
“We're living in a new cosmology,” he said. “A new computational universe of big data in which our thoughts, genes and behavior are reduced to bits churning through algorithmic computes. It's circuits and information flows, signal and noise.”
“When information is everything, we can understand how things really work.”
Hence, Big Opportunities.
Very little - perhaps none of this, though – would be possible without the precipitous drop in the cost of computing overall.
Thus began the presentation by Steve Mills, IBM Software & Systems Senior Vice President and Group Executive.
Mills proceeded to highlight some of the latest and biggest numbers from the big data universe. For example:
From here, Mills furthered Robert Leblanc’s illustration of the resulting pressures on IT. Consider, for example:
To make sense of such a maelstrom of machine and mobile data, Mills said organizations need multiple platform capabilities such as data visualization and discovery. Further, he said, they must be delivered from a flexible, adaptable platform built on open standards.
Precisely the platform that IBM now offers, said Mills.
Mills went on to explain how though the challenges of big data may be new, the tools and techniques organizations can use to resolve them are not. Rather, he said, organizations will capitalize on the big opportunities by rethinking the things they’ve already done. Opportunities to increase efficiency, reduce waste, eliminate fraud and increase customer loyalty abound, as does the data. Mills even made the bold claim that U.S. national debt could be eliminated within a decade by applying better analytics to its myriad disbursement processes.
“To every challenge the data is there,” he said. “All that's required is for organizations to grasp the opportunity. Capitalizing on big data doesn’t require us to do anything other than raise our game in the things we’ve been doing for a long time. We’re not constrained by cost or technology.”
Drawing on IBM’s now 100-plus years in business, Mills left attendees with an encouraging thought: “We’ve been through these transitions before. This is right in our wheelhouse."
Mills then gave way to Fred Balboni, Global Leader for Business Analytics and Optimization, IBM Global Business Services, who both stressed the importance of acting on the new insights they gain from big data.
“Insight will be the next commodity,” he said. “All competitive enterprises will find new insights in their data.”
“The difference will be in acting on those insights. Once you know, what can you do, and how fast?”
Balboni previewed a world remade by big data and analytics in which no profession, industry or business function will be untouched. For example: no longer will CMOs simply manage agency relationships. They’ll be called upon to provide hard numbers. CFOs will cease to be scoreboard operators and assume the role of coach calling in the plays that move their organizations forward. CIOs will continue to obsess over technology, but will also need to change the way they interact with the business to ensure all functions can benefit from big data and analytics.
These transitions are shifting organzations' mindsets from focusing on tackling their biggest problems to seeking out their biggest opportunities.
"It's a very optimistic mindset," he said.
To demonstrate what's possible, Balboni welcomed to the stage two IBM customers who had taken these words very seriously indeed.
From JP Morgan Chase, Senior Vice President of Customer Analytics Adam Braff explained how big data and analytics are helping what is America’s largest bank better understand its customer interactions across its multiple channels. From information brokers Thompson Reuters, CIO Jerry Hope explained how a new analytics program was helping the company better integrate and leverage customer data and relationships and develop new products based on a 360-degree analysis of its 100 most important customers.
The session concluded with IBM Business Analytics General Manger Les Rechan taking the stage. The always energetic Rechan began his talk by calling attention to a recent Harvard Business Review article declaring data scientist as “the sexiest job of the 21st century.”
Rechan proceeded to explain how analytics is simply the starting point for organizations and that a strong IT-business partnership is essential to weaving analytics into every business process. “Data is the new oil,” he said. “Our job is to drill into an refine it, to turn insight into action. We need to move from data-rich, information-poor to data-rich, insight-pervasive.”
For other perspectives on Day 2 of Information On Demand, check out the official Information On Demand blog.