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October 9, 2012

Why Mark Hurd Thinks You Will Fail

Ian Armas Foster

If you could make it past the ESPN-esque, in-your-face intro on this puppy, you probably heard something striking….

“I’ve had people tell me in big companies, ‘I have a strategy. That is, we will not have more data,” explained Oracle President Mark Hurd. “I think that is a bad strategy. I think you will fail. The data is coming whether you like it or not.”

Those words, if slightly harsh, reflect the realities of staying competitive based on analytical capabilities. In Hurd’s view, however, there are still plenty of large companies that wholeheartedly reject that reality. Alas, Hurd revealed that information while delivering the keynote address at Openworld 2012. He also addressed the leading causes of data overload over the last couple of years during the speech, the highlights of which are here.

There are multiple methods of expressing the explosion of the world’s digital data over the last two years. Hurd went with the simplest, stating, “90% of the world’s data today has been created in the last couple of years.” According to Hurd, social media, especially Twitter and Facebook, is the prime catalyst for this recent data explosion.

“All of you this week that have been posting to Twitter and Facebook, that have been uploading photos, videos, doing searches, you’re all part of this problem. I know you all love it, it’s great, but it’s overwhelming the capacity of the industry to deal with it.” Twitter has existed since 2006. Facebook started two years before that.

Intuitively, two years ago was 2010. Most who have a Facebook had one two years ago and likely used it just as much. The same holds true for Twitter. The difference is that now the ability to store and package the ensuing social media for commercial purposes has increased. Businesses are recognizing the potential value of using that data. Examples of that include specialized marketing campaigns, product monitoring, and gauging one’s social impact.

With that being said, there is absolutely such a thing as pulling in too much data. Blindly throwing money is less likely than developing what Hurd calls a dual strategy approach to big data. According to Hurd, “You’re going to have to have two separate strategies: an austerity and an innovation strategy to be able to make all of this work.”

As the data expands, so too does the demand to get the necessary information faster. To fuel that demand, businesses are garnering more of an understanding as to which data is relevant. Per Hurd, “the challenge is being able to sort through all that data at an atomic level to get to exactly the right answer to somebody who has something measure in a very short time frame, seconds, sometimes tenths of a second, to make a decision.”

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