The Concept of Big in the Age of Data

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Today Oracle CEO Mark Hurd was joined on stage at the Oracle OpenWorld 2014 (#OOW14) keynote by executives from dunnhumby, Procter & Gamble, Walgreens, Xerox, and Pearson. Together these organizations represent half a billion employees and billions in revenue. Naturally, the conversations revolved around gaining a competitive edge through analytics, data, cloud platforms, and agile IT infrastructure. In fact, Oracle recently announced a laser focus on being “the leader in cloud infrastructure,” pursuing competitors like Microsoft head-on in the battle for the cloud platform infrastructure. The challenge for Oracle is the speed at which it can push forward with this vision and the “openness” the stack really provides. In fact, in Q4 2014 Oracle became the second largest SaaS provider in the world behind Salesforce.com. But competitive SaaS offerings continue to compel droves of Oracle customers to invest in competitors like Workday and Salesforce.com, which Hurd characterizes as “niche providers.” Everyone wants to move faster, and as Hurd pointed out, “most organizations work off of 20-year-old legacy applications. You must modernize to survive.” This is interesting because in some respects that legacy infrastructure is actually Oracle, and it’s not so easy to move away from it once you make the investment. So attendees at the event are eager to learn how Oracle is going to ease the transition and deliver a next-generation infrastructure and a vision that will scale far into the future for IT leaders.

In truth, the cloud platform is, well, the platform for which innovation blooms inside the enterprise. Cloud is transforming the pace at which otherwise slow-to-adapt large enterprise organizations can test, refine, and innovate to maintain a competitive advantage. But these days, with so much available data that is never really used effectively, it’s about unlocking the value inside the data to drive more meaningful customer experiences and make smarter business decisions. In short, it’s about how you activate big data.



During the keynote Hurd was joined by the CIO at dunnhumby, one of the world’s leading customer science companies. dunnhumby helps retailers and brands extract insights from data to help improve the customer experience. The company has recently invested heavily in the Oracle cloud suite, including Oracle Sales Cloud, Oracle Marketing Cloud, Oracle ERP Cloud, Oracle HCM Cloud, Oracle Hyperion Managed Cloud Service, and Oracle Business Intelligence Applications Managed Cloud Service. According to Gleanster, the average Top Performing organization estimates that it mines and analyze about 30% of available data.

 

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A company like dunnhumby that frequently deals with massive volumes of cross-channel structured and unstructured data from consumer brands needs massively scalable infrastructure to analyze and extract insights from the data. It also stands to reason that they have PLENTY of available data from which to extract insights, since most organizations collect the data but don’t actually use it. So it was interesting to hear the CIO reference a focus on “new data,” which he defined as data created in real time from mobile, social, individual data for “individualization.” That’s a stark reminder that it’s not just about analyzing available data (which very few organizations do a good job with in the first place) but also applying innovative thinking to capture new data and activate it in new ways.



When we explore some of the top sources of big data insights today, it’s interesting to see that some of the most compelling sources of unstructured data such as mobile are actually sitting untouched in many organizations. Indeed, we have only scratched the surface. Kim Stevenson of Intel summed up her ask to Mark Hurd eloquently: “We need to move faster. We need Oracle to bring ’fast innovation’ to drive transformation.”

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