A global telecoms company recently decided to do what many companies are doing: figure out how to turn big data into big profits, Harvard Business Review reports.

They put together a preliminary budget and an RFP that asked vendors to take the data the company had — customer call and payments behavior, online searches, social network activity, billing, etc. — and identify opportunities.

Vendors salivated at what essentially was a blank check to collect and analyze everything.

Two months later, the bids were coming in 400 percent over budget. The solution? Cut back the scope. But no one was sure what to cut and what to keep because the goals had not been clearly enough defined. Months of wasted time and money later, the company is no closer to a big data plan.

Variations of this Big Data story line are being played out in executive offices around the world, with CMOs and CIOs in the thick of it. CMOs, tasked with driving growth, are pounding the table demanding that the surfeit of customer data their companies are accumulating be turned into increased revenue.

CIOs, tasked with turning technology into revenue, are themselves pounding the table demanding better requirements for Big Data initiatives.

In all this table-pounding is a central truth in today’s Big Data world: both the CMO and CIO are on the hook for turning all that data into above-market growth.

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