Companies that spend on big data have this one thing in common

 By 2019, Gartner estimates that 90% of large companies will have a Chief Data Officer (CDO). In fact, Gartner predicts that there will be 1,000 Chief Data Officers or Chief Analytics Officers by the end of 2015 alone, up from just 400 in 2014.

According to Mario Faria, research vice president at Gartner, “Business leaders are starting to grasp the huge potential of digital business, and demanding a better return on their organizations’ information assets and use of analytics.”

Indeed, companies are willing to put their money where their mouths were. In a recent survey conducted by Corinium Global Intelligence, it was revealed that 94% of the firms surveyed have invested in ‘Data Management’ software over the last 12 months. This was closely followed by investment in ‘Data Analytics’ at 72%.

So what drives spending in big data capability? Our interview with some of the most influential CDOs today revealed that it all boils down to these 3 general objectives:

Value Creation

Peter Laflin, Chief Data Scientist at Bloom Agency: The biggest driver for investment is to realise big data’s true value to our organisation, which remains to be a challenge. That comes in a number of flavours: from understanding what value our current data has, to finding new ways to augment and enrich our data. On the other hand, the biggest excitement among C-level executives is that the data we hold can transform our business in terms of revenue, profit, understanding of customer, innovation and product development. If the value is deemed great enough, the investment can be provided.

Performance and Speed of Delivery

Gary Goldberg, Chief Data Officer at Mizuho International: Whether data is measured in billions of records or hundreds of thousands, the principles of good data management are equally important. Assuming the data is in a fit state, newer technologies such as big data technologies allow companies to consider opportunities that weren’t previously available.  It’s no coincidence that the growth of data analytics has been strongly correlated to the growth of big data solutions.

We’re using a mix of traditional databases and document databases (e.g. Mongo) as it’s appropriate.  The mix of RDBMS and NoSQL/Big Data solutions gives us a nice blend of predictability, performance, flexibility and speed of delivery.

Eduard Gil, Chief Digital and Data Officer at SAGESSA: Management is mostly about performance – any manager should know it. You do need tools to measure your performance. Calculating its ROI is a straightforward comparison of technology and labor costs with before-and-after business results. However, it’s useful to chunk the problem down and to start to think about the returns generated by data infrastructure into the “tactical” returns and the “strategic” returns. Tactical returns tend to be more immediate while strategic returns tend to be longer term and perhaps less tangible.

Tactical returns measurement can be easier and should be built into the business case for the investments in the first place. Strategic returns is needed to balance between the immediate and measurable impact of analytics and the longer-term and more intangible aspects such as: does the analytics function have the ability to directly influence the KPIs of the organization through its activities? If not, do internal customers and stakeholder groups believe that the analytics function adds value to the business?

Jessica Rusu, Director, EU, Analytics at eBay: Size is a main driver. Ebay manages one of the largest data platforms in the world, responsible for processing over 100+ Petabytes per Day.

Actionable Insight

Stephan den Hengst, Chief Data Officer at National Police of the Netherlands: The investments in Big Bata are determined by our operational possibilities and results.  The added value of Big Data within the police force is dictated in our Big Data vision. Our intelligence ambition is secured in a Business intelligence Strategy.

Jonathan Catling, Director, Global Data Architecture at Las Vegas Sands: For an integrated resort, the ability to create cross-functional models and see impact across the resort’s many business domains is key to our data science strategy. Marketing will always be a priority to creating the opportunity for the customer to engage with the resort, and the ability to measure and model the results and identify new opportunities is a prime supporting function. Second is to take that to a global analysis level. While we have 3 locations, each has a completely distinct business model and focus. As each impact to the business is measured, we increase our ability to model impact to the cross domains and focus on maximising our investment. Big Data is key to that.

The CDO is fast becoming a corporate standard. Faced with unprecedented volume of data and legacy infrastructure, someone needs to take charge and take a holistic view across the organisation.

CDO: The Tie that Binds

It is true that data is growing faster than ever before. By the year 2020, about 1.7 megabytes of new information will be created every second for every human being on the planet. With the explosion of data, companies will be spending more to stay competitive.

While their motivations may differ, companies that are spending on big data have one thing in common – they all have a Chief Data Officer. The CDO is fast becoming a corporate standard. Faced with unprecedented volume of data and legacy infrastructure, someone needs to take charge and take a holistic view across the organisation.

Yasaman Hadjibashi, Chief Data Officer at Barclays Africa Group brilliantly sums up this point. According to her, “there needs to be top-line management that is putting together and driving the adoption and evolution of new big data technologies. They need to drive the revamping of length processes and bring data-oriented people front-to-back and back-to-front to really embed a data-driven culture.  A CDO provides this leadership and disciplined focus towards this seamless integration where data will help power consumer experiences, and the customer mind-set that will drive the delivery of authentic data products back to the consumer with expected tangible impact.”

Join us at the Chief Data Officer Forum, Europe 2016 convening from the 9-11th May in London This premier event will include over 40+ speakers and keynote presentations. For more information, visit

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