May 31, 2012

MIT Sloan Event Unravels Data Trends

Datanami Staff

The 2012 MIT Sloan CIO Symposium recently concluded at the MIT campus. The event drew over 700 CIOs and senior technical and business executives who gathered to explored how academic research and new technologies, including those behind the new demands created by big data, can be further developed and put into practice in research and business environments.

During the event a five-person panel of leading experts from the research, analyst and business community discussed some of the top trends they’re seeing in big data.

As David Kiron summarized following the panel, there are a number of trends that impact academic and enterprise big data developments. He detailed these in the following list:

  • New tools are putting structure on so-called “unstructured” data like email and tweets.
  • Big data is big business. Panelist James Noga, vice president and CIO at Partners Healthcare, said that in the US health care industry alone, the value of big data is $300 billion. Of that, $200 billion is in reduced expenses.
  • Just-in-time data can prompt a flight attendant to offer a glass of champagne to the person in seat 21A, who the attendant’s airline-issued tablet says lost her luggage on a prior leg. This example came from panelist Shvetank Shah, executive director of the Corporate Executive Board.
  • The field is hot and demands a crop of skilled workers. Global demand for data scientists will soon reach 190,000, said panelist Michael Chui, a senior fellow at the McKinsey Global Institute. GE, for instance, is investing more than $2 billion in an analytics function for its industrial services and products, and is looking to fill hundreds of analytics positions that demand skills with business, statistics and big data tools.
  • Analytics is moving out of the IT function and into research and development, into strategy, into marketing departments. Distributed analytics is on its way.
  • Big data will continue to challenge our notions of privacy. As companies combine multiple datasets from inside and outside the organization, it will be increasingly difficult to maintain control over personal information. Regulations are in the works, but as Davenport says, “get used to not having privacy going forward.”
  • Although big data promises significant value, it is a business trend that remains “emergent.” There are no best practices yet, if for no other reason than that the technology is so new. Sharing data also requires significant culture change in many organizations.

The professionals who took part in the panel included Dr. Michael Chui, a senior fellow with the McKinsey Global Institute, Dr. Tom Davenport, an analytics author who has penned multiple books about big data, James Noga from the healthcare industry and business leader Shvetank Shah.

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