How Will the “Age of Big Data” Affect Management?

Summing up: How do we avoid losing useful knowledge in a seemingly endless flood of data? Jim Heskett's readers offer some wise suggestions. What do you think?

Summing Up: Will Access To Big Data Further Enable Fact-based Decision Making Or … Analysis Paralysis?

"To T. S. Eliot's prescient words 'Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?' we might now add, 'Where is the information we have lost in data?'"

That's Paul Nicholas' reaction after reading most of the responses to this month's column. It's not a bad "sense of the meeting," in which many contributors offered suggestions to managers wishing to get the most out of so-called big data and avoid paying the price of paralysis in the process.

The challenges Big Data pose for managers include "identifying which data are relevant" (Subrata Chakraborty) and "seeing through the woods to know what to use and what not" (Pieter J de Beer). Scott Waller expressed the fear that "the age of Big Data seems to be arriving at the time of death for the Big Thinker." Gerald Nanninga cautioned us that "the big risk is that it gives executives a false sense of comfort." Clifford Francis Baker added, "My concern is primarily focused on the possibility of complacency … data derived from data analytics must … be handled with care." Mok Tuck Sung commented that "technology and knowledge advancement have again developed faster than the managers' and business owners' capabilities to leverage its usefulness in their decision making process." Philippe Gouamba reminded us that "perfection is but an illusion … A successful outcome is almost never the result of perfect information."

Among the suggestions for managers were these:

  1. Help "data analyzers consume and translate the data" (Scott Kemme, who also suggested an alternative title for the column, which I instead used above),
  2. Know "what not to look at." (Phillip Clark)
  3. Work to reduce turnover among business analysts who "tend to be lower level employees and have a high turnover," creating a "losing battle" through the loss of "institutional data knowledge." (Kim Kraemer)
  4. Avoid the belief that "whatever is new will solve their problems," concentrating on the appropriate application of Big Data. (Seena Sharp)
  5. Avoid allowing Big Data to remain the "purview of the select few" only for use for one-off and one-time decisions." (Jonathan Spier)
  6. Maintain the attitude that "fast is better than perfect." (Mike Flanagan)
  7. Avoid the temptation of harvesting just the "'low hanging fruit' rather than waiting for the analysts to gain understanding (presumably of the decisions to be made)." (Sean O'Riordain)
  8. Rather than concentrating on the data, focus on "being able to formulate the right questions to ask at precisely the right moment." (Edward Hare)

That's quite a list.

Tom Dolembo drew a picture of direct process control in which decisions have to be made "in the flow" in situations where there isn't time for conventional analysis (at least by humans). Is this a glimpse into the future of decision-making (without analysis paralysis) based on big data for a widening range of decisions or is it confined to a special set of conditions? Will access to Big Data further enable fact-based decision making or … analysis paralysis? What do you think?

Original Article

Ideas and trends converge from time to time in a way that suggests the possible shape of the future. Sometimes I think I can comprehend what they may mean. But other times I know I need help. This is one of those times.

Just two decades ago, we didn't have Google and other information sources; storage constraints would not have permitted Google to provide everyday access to the "world's information." If we had had the information, we couldn't have accessed it effectively anyway. Email systems were not widely available, let alone mobile devices with capacity to access the data. Now the capacity to store and access information through cloud computing is so great that we are entering a post-Google era in which new organizations like Factual (founded by a former Google employee) have set as their goal that of providing access to all of the world's facts. Presumably this means data such as the location of every factory in the world, data that has not already been massaged and spun. Some facts have to be acquired and organized. Other facts are generated by so-called digital sensors operating worldwide in industrial equipment, autos, and the like. By linking the sensors, an "industrial Internet" can be created.

These trends appear to have "opportunity" written all over them, particularly for those who are training now for jobs in data analytics. In addition to less wasteful marketing efforts (we should be able to know, for example, "which half" of advertising is effective, thereby making an old marketing saw obsolete), they should produce more effective business strategies and inject added certainty into the appraisal of opportunities for new business startups. Furthermore, analytics (not the data) should be a source of continuing competitive advantage. In his new book, Charles Duhigg describes how the retailer Target uses data on consumption patterns to discern and address promotions to pregnant customers, perhaps even before they've announced their pregnancy to friends (and Target competitors). This is particularly important because pregnancy is one of those life events associated with significant shifts in consumption habits.

A problem is that the shortage of experts in data analytics (some call them "data whisperers") is so acute that it may be years before a sufficient supply can be trained. The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that up to 190,000 are needed now in the US, along with 1.5 million managers capable of using their work. The shortage appears to be growing along with the potential for competitive advantage associated with data analytics.

This all raises many questions. Will the age of big data eliminate most or all uncertainty from business decisions for those most able to make effective use of "all the facts in the world?" Will it fuel the next "gold rush" for talent in a quest for competitive advantage? Will analytics, as well as the supply of analytics-savvy managers, so badly lag "big data" that it will only lead to confusion and misguided decisions? Or is this just the latest management fad? How, if at all, should this affect education for management? What do you think?

To Read More:

Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do and How to Change It , Random House, 2012.

Quentin Hardy, Just the Facts. Yes, All of Them, The New York Times, March 25, 2012.

Steve Lohr, The Age of Big Data, The New York Times, February 12, 2012.

The challenge—and opportunity—of 'big data', McKinsey Global Institute, May 2011.

    • Rob Houck
    • Partner, Eaton & Van Winkle is the link to a lecture at the 2011 Falling Walls Conference in Berlin on this subject. Note - all lectures are strictly limited to 15 minutes, hence the brevity.
    • Scott Kemme
    • Senior Business Analyst, ClickFox
    Perhaps a better frame is "Will access to Big Data further enable fact-based decision making or it's polar opposite, analysis paralysis?"

    Beyond the need for analytical resources is also the need for tools to help consume and translate big data into understandable and, more importantly, actionable analyses that can drive change into the organization. The sheer size of Big Data necessitates that kind of assistance.

    An additional benefit of such tools are they may enable a broader population of data analyzers than might otherwise be possible by the way such data is presented to the end user.

    If you help the data analyzers consume and translate the data, management can then assume the expected role of decision making rather than analytical support.
    • Tom Dolembo
    • Founder, New North Institute
    Our medical device injection molders were linked via sensors to each machine, terrabytes of data, and customers could alter or vary processing at will, directly for each shot to each machine in a lights out class 10,000 environment. Material costs for the biosorbables were $1500/kilo, mistakes costly. A world of such sensors offers a vision of direct process control, not just analysis. In our case, there wasn't time to analyze, decisions had to be made in the flow, while the plastic was forming. We interfaced with machines in China to synchronize changes. Data saturation definitely creates one world, one great algorithm. Data became obsolete almost as soon as it is created. The butterfly is still a butterfly, no matter what the data says, distinct, unique.

    I suppose the great opportunity question is how this rolling sea changes us as customers? What we found is that every process is really unique, mass production is a nineteenth century mythology (imprecise fits, imprecise data). It never existed. If we can have unique products that change as we do, be the color and do things we want them to do, before we want them to do them, be platforms for data transformation, not just appliances, we're closer. Can a car be a coffee maker and a toaster and a toothbrush and a sensory experience, data transforming transportation into something else? We have developed markets for discrete products that only do discrete things, just go to any garage sale, obsolete needs populate our trash. Can we own a Zip Clip that drives us to work or entertains us keeps us warm and feeds us and clothes us when and where and how we want? Not really that hard to do. Think inside the flow of the data, the data itself is a distraction.
    • Phillip Clark
    • Clark & Associates
    Interesting topic. I will go back to a mantra I provided meteorologist many years ago when we became flooded with data from around the world....
    We have entered the age where the smart person will be the one who knows what not to look at. You cannot make deadlines or good decisions looking at everything.
    • Pete DeLisi
    • President, Organizational Synergies
    As you suggest, it is easy to get caught up in the latest technological trend. It's hard to argue that data and information are bad, but what price do they come with and what value do they provide to the organization?

    Analytics is not an end in itself, but rather a means to some result or goal that the organization has. By assessing analytic projects in terms of their contribution to corporate goals, we can be assured that we are using this new resource in the most optimal way.
    • Kim Kraemer
    • Data Architect, USG Corporation
    I don't see these trends are creating new problems. They are just growing in impact (like Morgans Law for disk space). Today the Business Analysts as well as Data Analysts are a great resource for understanding business data. Business Analysts tend to be lower level employees and have a high turnover, so the institutional data knowledge is lost in many cases. So its a losing battle.
    • Hugh Quick
    • Home, None
    There has been more 'data' than any individual can absorb for a long time. We will continue to rely on 'experts' to sift it for us. The means of communication have changed but there has been too much data for ages.
    • Prof. Subrata Chakraborty
    • Retired Professor
    Challenge of listening to what data reveal had been there for long. True, in today's world access to data and information have improved manifold. While this has made life easy in one sense, it has also made life much too difficult in another sense. Identifying which data are relevant is in itself has become a critical challenge. Hardly any guidelines are available for this. Secondly, interpretation has assumed much greater significance than analysis. One can analyze a set of data using some standard tool or method, which is least of the problem today with advanced software packages.What matters crucially is the interpretation as that, and that alone, takes one to the path of action. There is no way to ascertain with any degree of definitiveness that one's interpretation is without a flaw and/or is comprehensive. Therefore, chances are that the same old hit or miss will come to be witnessed although with lot more effort and money spent. To benefit from large data, good guidelines for interpretation are called for; which most texts and manuals on the subject of Business Analytics that I know of do not talk about in a big way.
    • Pieter J de Beer
    • Senior Partner, De Beer & Keulder Legal Practitioners
    Data paralysis is a new age common obstacle. With too much info decision makers slow down. Identifying the the crucial data is essential, taking decision fast keeps one in an competitive position. The crux is seeing through the woods to know what to use and what not - I ageree with Scott.
    • Seena Sharp
    • Executive Director, Sharp Market Intelligence
    I expect Big Data to be the next hot business trend, similar to re-engineering, management by walking around, and more. There absolutely is a place for Big Data, but not everyplace.

    The problem with new ideas/concepts/phrases is that companies are so anxious to succeed that they believe whatever is new will solve their problems and bring the growth they're seeking.

    Like re-engineering, Big Data will be erroneously applied in many companies and will result in poor decisions.

    Data is very useful, but it must be recognized as measuring the past. It provides an alert to changes, but because of the time lag and today's constant changes, Big Data may be disinformation.

    The popular management saying, "If it can't be measured, it can't be managed," fails to recognize that not everything fits into metrics.

    That's the enormous hidden value of market intelligence. It reveals what's changing and emerging - before data can be gathered. That's the source of opportunities, threats, and growth.

    Seena Sharp
    Sharp Market Intelligence
    Author, Competitive Intelligence Advantage
    • Jonathan Spier
    • Entrepreneur in Residence, Altos Ventures
    As a former CEO of a "big data" software company for the past 7 years, I believe in the opportunity for Big Data to be transformative. The tech industry has spent the last 40+ years digitizing information, and mobile and sensor technologies have only accelerated the trend. We will spend the next 40 years learning to USE all of that information in our businesses.

    But to impact management the big challenge is: How can big data become more than just more, well, data at a time when we're all already drowning in data?

    For big data to impact management means that it is tied into practical, every day uses. After all, although the long term order of magnitude changes are exciting, what most of us are looking for are near-term ways to make the existing things we do X% more efficient.

    In other words, as long as big data really requires armies of "data whisperers", it will remain the purview of the select few for one-off and one-time decisions. When it will get more exciting is when we can bring the fire to the masses by embedding better analytics into many of the things we do in business every day.
    • Scott Waller
    • VP, M/A/R/C Research
    The Age of BIG DATA seems to be arriving at the time of death for the BIG THINKER. I find that the skill and will to consistently apply the implications seen in BIG DATA is sorely lacking in the middle managers and some of the leaders I meet.

    Can technology fix that problem?
    • Kapil Kumar Sopory
    • Company Secretary, SMEC(India) Private Limited
    We do not need all data to be subjected to analysis. It is no doubt a fact that data being thrown out is enormous but what is important is to attend only to what is indeed relevant. If it arrives from external sources its value would depend on the standard of the source; data received from unreliable sources cannot be depended upon. Further, time need not be wasted on analysing what is not relevant to the user eventhough the exercise be a great academic effort.
    That said, rejecting the irrelevant needs focus. We are in a real world of business. Our resouces - time, energy and money - are scarce and have to used very carefully. Once we are serious on this the need for such a large backlog of expert data analytics and the user-managers may not be there. It is neverthelss a hard fact that skills of all sorts are in very short supply; this applies to all work ares and the cases in question are no exception.
    • Mike Flanagan
    • Purchasing Manager
    Agree with Scott kemme (#2) regarding paralysis by analysis. More info comes the more you want, almost like drugs. One has to understand what is important to make a decision and then eventually move on to the next item or challenge. In "Corps Business: The 20 Mangement Principle of the US Marines," the author points out "fast is better than perfect." If you wait for all the info to be in, you will always be behind in solving your issues. Your competition or "enemy" will be ahead of your every move and will leave you in the dust.
    • Charles Mwale
    • CEO & Founder, Vision Leadership Institute international
    This period is indeed a period in which knowledge or data is on the increase. The fact that vast amounts of information is on our finger tips does not gaurantee success in business management. The leader or the manager will still need to utilize instinct or gutt filling, in addittion to the data, to arrive at profitable decisions. This then requires executive intelligence-the ability to connect the dots.
    • Michael Rock
    • Data Asset Monetization and Productization
    The data is all there, it's what to do with it that is the big question. Now that we collected it, how to we make money off of it; gain deeper understanding of our customers from it; enhance our products with it...the Executive office has to decide that a lot of this is unknown, and thats okay. Data is an asset whos value is perhaps limitless. Bets of all, data is the cheapest asset you'll ever's free because it's a byproduct of your current business model. Dive in and let the innovation and ideation exercises begin!
    • Sean O'Riordain
    • Trinity College, Dublin
    To push further on what Scott said, with big data, analysts will be pressured to produce "results", but big data will generally require more time to understand, and only with time will come real understanding. I liken this process to an apprenticeship. every time I meet a new set of data, big or small. Unfortunately managers generally want the "low hanging fruit" rather than waiting for the analysts to gain understanding and the wrong conclusions are drawn from the data and the wrong decisions are then made - but they're based on evidence - so that must be OK then?

    As other studies have shown, managers will draw their own conclusions and then get analysts to find the data to back up the conclusions... confirmatory bias...
    • Gerald Nanninga
    • Founder, Planninga from Nanninga
    Analytics has its place, but it may be smaller than the big data vendors want it to be.

    The big risk is that it gives executives a false sense of comfort. It breeds the idea that "the computers have it all figured out; it is based on science and math, so what can go wrong?" This lets the executives off the hook on having to think deeply or creatively...or so they believe. So we get lazy in our strategic approach (and pay the price).

    I'd rather have a few creative geniuses than a roomful of data whisperers. Some of the advice I've seen from data whisperers is simply awful, because they are so out-of-touch with real people doing real things.

    I wrote more about the limits of analytics here:
    • Edward Hare
    • Retired Director...Strategy and Planning, Fortune 250 Manufacturer
    Bottom IS just the latest management fad. Phillip Clark, as usual, and Hugh Waller allude to the real problem. Granted the flurry of infomation, and mis-information, has turned into a blizzard travelling at break-neck speed. But some people have a gift. The gift of recognizing.... knowing...what's truly important around an issue. And that correlation does not always mean causation. It's a gift that is reasonably rare....a few percent of managers at best. I have worked with precious few executives during my career who I think possessed it. Or the related gift of uncannily being able to formulate the right questions to ask at precisely the right moment. And try as we may, such gifts cannot generally be "taught". Far too often decisions are colored by one's own economic self-interests and/or a hidden agenda such as protecting one's status, image, and promoteability.
    My advice.....find those in the organization who can separate the wheat from the chaff. They may be lurking anywhere and could be those you'd least suspect. Spend the time to identify them. Even if it will take more of your time and is a lot more tricky to do than subscribing to the latest fad.
    • Mok Tuck Sung
    • Owner, Profit Tools
    I remember reading Profit Patterns back in 1999, by Adrian J. Slywotzky, David J. Morrison, Ted Moser, Kevin A. Mundt, James A. Quella. Talks about Strategic Patterns and Strategic Anticipation.
    Fast forward to today, with the advancement in data management technology and analytical skill in the past 13 years, they should have a new version of their Profit Pattern.
    My observation, is a repetition, where technology and knowledge advancement has again developed faster than the managers and business owners capabilities to leverage it's usefulness in their decision making process.
    • Philippe Gouamba
    • Vice President of Human Resources, Skyline Windows, LLC
    Professor Heskett asks: Will the age of big data eliminate most or all uncertainty from business decisions for those most able to make effective use of "all the facts in the world?"
    It is exciting to dream about making perfect business decisions as we hold "all the facts in the world" in our hands but perfection is but an illusion and one that we need to be very caution with.
    Lets take a step back and away from this illusion of perfection and think for a second about three men: Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs. We all know who they are and what they have accomplished. If you do not know them, please google them when you have a free moment. Here is my point: If they had "all the facts in the world" in their grasp, would they have accomplished what they did? I think NOT. All the facts in the world include the fact that most start-ups fail in the first year of existence. It includes the fact that most ".coms" did not survive the .com bubble which exploded famously. If EVERYONE had perfect information and perfect decision-making skills would EVERYONE be a Bill Gates, a Mark Zuckerberg or a Steve Jobs? NO! If President Bush had "all the facts in the world", would he have kept us out of the conflict in Iraq? No! He was driven by things other than the facts.
    If there was ever a perfect business decision it did not come about because some manager or executive had "all the facts in the world". It came about because someone did some research, committed some resources to a worthwhile idea and made a decision and stood by it. A successful outcome is almost never the result of perfect information. It is the result of thoughtful leadership, of risk-taking, of creativity and of taking full advantage of a window of opportunity that may or may not ever come again.
    The age of big data may be here but even it has not and cannot change the nature of man, nor the fact that leadership and decision-making still require human interaction in the form of gut-checks, risk-taking, intuition, memory, experience, timing, creativity and leadership among many other contributing human in-puts.
    Thank you, Professor Heskett for your questions which are always though-provoking.
    • Erwin G. Pfuhler
    • Owner, ANOVASTAR GmbH
    With this new opportunity the question arises what to do this amount of data. First we can just retrieve mostly any fact we are interested in. From a static perspective. Digging a bit deeper we will appreciate data analysis with statistic tools. This will be give us an idea what happens over time, but still we consider the parameters as independent variables. True insights will be provided, when we look at those data as a tightly woven net. Systems Thinking as proposed by Peter Senge, John Sterman, Jamshid Gharajedaghi should be the basis on which education for managers could build upon.
    • Ravindra Edirisooriya
    • Accountant 04/17/12, Midwestern Small Business
    Professor Heskett's question on how "big data" will affect management is profound. However, an understanding of the connection between effective management decisions and use of data is important to answer Professor Heskett's question because data (big or small) means all things to all people (check the above comments for verification!). I have analyzed big data sets (not to mention small and medium data sets) for multiple companies. Some companies make management decisions with no data analysis and others spend resources to make management decisions based on sound data analysis.
    All these managers are sometimes right and sometimes wrong whether the decisions are based on data analysis or not based on data analysis. Hence, the objective of scientific data analysis is to reduce the chance of making the wrong decision ideally to 1% or 5%. If a decision is made with no data analysis there is no basis to verify how likely the outcome could be incorrect. If a decision is made with data analysis there is a basis and verification but it still depends on assumptions made especially that historical data could forecast the future outcomes, data size (big or small), data quality ("cleaning" data is as important as analysis, understanding and interpretation), analytical techniques (techniques that apply to small data sets not necessarily apply to big data sets and vice versa) and data analyst's (business analyst's) ability to understand and interpret the data! Data analyst (business analyst) may provide the evidence and the assumptions of the basis but
    the manger could be a nonbeliever of data analysis or would guide the data analyst to back his/her management decision already inked. On one hand, the greatest harm a data analyst (business analyst) can do is not to speak up his/her reservations on how the basis is used for decision making when it is incorrect and on the other hand a warning is timely. Speaking up your reservations may bring the analyst into disfavor with his/her supervisors, bosses or internal clients who may have done the wrong basis for so long and they may set you up and get you fired for a flimsy reason (or make you throw in the towel and resign from the company) to bury their ills from their superiors!
    • David Lindsay
    • Lecturer/Tutor, Edinburgh Napier Business School
    I agree wholeheartedly that this tsunami requires both monitoring and effective management -the difference between what information is relevant, factual and up-to-date and information which aids our learning process .Already we have students who hardly ever refer to hardcopy sources for their dissertations, favoring instead the various links offered by Wikipedia and the likes. As this is still the genesis of the revolution it is up to observant and perceptive managers to identify specialist and dedicated experts who can "filter" and channel the appropriate information required for their organisations. Already we have e-mail overload and indeed some organisations are favoringTwitter in order to transmit and receive direct information short-term. We are in danger however of forgetting the Importance of infomation -we should be comfortably swimming rather than helplessly drowning in a sea of pop-ups and spam. I agree also th
    at the future is ripe for engineers who are pioneers and are able to extend the concept of firewalling for individual organisations - tailor-made services which would save a large percentage of valuable employee hours discarding and deleting irrelevant and unecessary "information" and "news" at the same time adding to that organisation's competitveness in their own marketplace. We have to escape the current concept that" too much ain't ever enough" and return to individualised data management including informatics and analytics but on a bespoke scale which could be engineered even for separate hierarchical levels in a company whether it is public, voluntary or private sector . Training pioneers is virtually impossible likewise entrepreneurs who have the ability and aptitude to "see" opportunities therfore it is left to Business Schools to devise relvant open programmes where the criteria for assessment is perhaps taken from the indivi
    dual student rather than imposed on by a risk-averse mechanical process so often found in places of "learning" .
    • Paul Nicholas
    • Director, Soul-Chaplain Consultancy
    This is very interesting and thought provoking - thank you
    The early 21st century obsession with data and its mining for information perhaps mirrors the obsession of late19th Century physics with a quest for exactitude - nothing new was expected more than that everything was to be measured to ever greater degrees of accuracy - until early 20th Century physics found the world is full of uncertainty.
    To T S Elliot's prescient words "Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?" we might now add "Where is the information we have lost in data?"
    • Clifford Francis baker
    • Chair, Neffel Corporation
    Having had the opportunity to participate in management in both the manufacture (aerospace) and retail (big box) sectors, I have found the data provided by statistical and metric analytics to be invaluable. Just the ability to track and quantify customer needs and expectations (in both sectors) alone constitutes a quantum advantage. However, I do find myself mildly concerned with the possibility of management becoming overly dependent on the data and the conclusions formulated by "data whisperers".

    My concern is primarily focused on the possibility of complacency developing on the part of corporate board members and officers toward the basic need for request due diligence necessary in any decision making process, as they depend too exclusively on the data formulated and presented.

    As anyone who is even vaguely familiar with accounting procedure and methodology knows the ease by which accounting data can be manipulated, I believe all and any data can an most likely will also be manipulated.

    The recent negative and near disastrous effect on global markets caused in part by investor dependence on the data and conclusions of many analysts of contemporary market behaviors, I consider to be exemplum primi est.

    As with handling a loaded gun, data derived from data analytics must also be handled with care.
    • Ruth Winett
    • Principal, Winett Associates
    With all data, the fundamental questions remain the same:

    Is it relevant? Is it current? Is it from reliable sources. What does it mean? What should we do about it?
    • Anonymous
    In such a sea of data, one needs to know only three things
    1. The destination or goal
    2. How to navigate the way there
    3. The way in which to swim
    Data has been the backbone of technological leaps in the digital age, with data accessibility, data sharing, data mining and of course data storage. May be now the paradigm shift has happened for data owning, security and usage. No more is anything totally private or public, with all data being available to be shared across the internet and the cloud. All the more is the significance of being able to access the right data at the right time, and being able to analyze from it to draw the right type of conclusions, so going by that, data will always form the inherent part of any system, and probably the biggest data acquirer, storage and processing is really the human mind itself.....
    • Anonymous
    As Steve Jobs would say 'That's been one of my mantras - focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it's worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.'
    If he can build the biggest company in the world by just focus and simplicity then Big Data is nothing but analysis-paralysis!! More data means more information, and more information means more ways of analysis it, and more ways of analysing it means more conclusions you can reach!
    • Raji Gogulapati
    Big data characterized by volume, velocity and variety has the potential for more choice for sources of data (and information), unforeseen data products to solve problems, provide insights, eliminate situations of lack of evidence as well as lack of sources of information. There is more scope for innovative, justified, evidence based and flattened decision making. Sensing and responding to situations which were thought impossible become possible with a capacity to question, check, visualize and recognize patterns and the ability to connect the dots of the data available.
    New possibilities prompt the need for new ways of management. Systemic thinking with a flair for analyzing and synthesizing data would be some of the traits of big data management professionals.
    Current data managers will need to categorize their applications to determine when to use and not use the possible resources for information. They will need to be able to determine the need for filtering and distilling the data to derive value of the information.
    A whole new type of data products reinventing industries is possible with big data with the convergence of several technologies such as artificial intelligence, bioinformatics, sensors and networks to name a few. Big data product managers will be foreseeing the product road maps of such products. Big data application managers seem to be like those senior editors who work with data journalists in the newspaper / publishing industry.
    Their skill set needs to match their nature of work, a fundamental shift from the more established general, process, product, project, program managers in any industry. The data revolution would be big with immense opportunities and the growth could be exponential.
    • Jeffrey Vocell
    • Co-Founder, Trendslide
    I agree with many of the other comments before me that 'Big Data' has the potential to be transformative. Since many others have addressed these points, I wanted to specifically address the talent piece of your question in the last paragraph.

    In fact, I think it's the wrong question whether we will find (or have) a shortage of analytics saavy managers. Certainly a manager with some level of depth into analytics is helpful, but they should not need to have a background in data science to manage their department. Some of this responsibility should be shouldered by vendors that are producing intelligence tools for managers. Not in the sense of sourcing and recruiting professionals, but making business analytics more human so even a manager without a deep data background can effectively use intelligence tools for informed decision making.

    I believe with the advent of mobile offerings we are starting to see the beginnings of some of these platforms that will only continue to expand into the workforce.
    • Lisa Kuhn Phillips
    • inavision, llc
    big data....
    better analysis....
    best to integrate....test...and continue to tweak..

    Evolution of data is in real-time. Must keep that in mind, when analyzing. Then push the data further, by not getting caught up in detail. Think holistically, with a systematic process in mind.