University of Southern California

Analytics 3.0
Prominent Business and Technology thought Leader shares "Big Data Analytics" Trends at the Marshall Distinguished Speaker Seminar
March 19, 2013 • by News at Marshall

Thomas H. Davenport, a prominent thought leader in business and technology, shared his insight on emerging trends in "big" and "small" data analytics during the second Marshall Distinguished Speaker Seminar at the Ronald Tutor Center at USC on Feb. 8.

A visiting professor at Harvard Business School and the holder of the President's Chair in Information Technology and Management at Babson College, Davenport was invited to campus to speak to faculty and students given the exponential growth in the generation of digital data from the internet, social media, video, genomic computations, and the proliferation of billions of sensors.

More than 100 faculty and students came to hear Davenport discuss future trends and challenges for companies looking to mine and use both big and small data, and the implications for how companies will manage and bring products and services to market.

Yehuda Bassok, chair of the Department of Information and Operations Management and Professor of Information and Operations Management at the Marshall School of Business, said the talk was important for giving students and faculty an overview of the developing field.

"For managers, it's important to understand this area," said Bassok, who created the forum, together with Professor Omar El Sawy, to give faculty and students across the university a chance to learn from the high-level discussion.

During his talk, Davenport defined small data as structured, lower-volume data. Big data, he said, is "either too big, too unstructured or too multi-sourced to be analyzed through traditional means."

He dated the first generation of corporate analytics, which he called "Analytics 1.0" from 1954 (when UPS started the first corporate analytics group) until 2010, when the concept of big data and "Analytics 2.0," took off.

Today, he said, we are in the early stages of "Analytics 3.0," in which big data and small data will no longer be kept separate, and there is blend of traditional analytics and big data analytics.

"The big companies that I speak to say they want to add big data to their portfolio, but they're not really viewing it as a separate thing. It's going to be combined, which means different approaches to managing, gathering and structuring data. It means application of big data in relatively new ways so that even though big data hasn't been with us that long, at least under that name, it's been very influential and the combination of the two will yield a new era in thinking of this phenomenon," said Davenport. "The future is not big data as a separate thing but giving people the tools to jointly manage a combination."

One of the most exciting developments in the use of big data, he said, is away from using it just as a support internal decision-making, but rather applying it to areas such as dynamic pricing and customer offers, supply-chain decisions, and developing new products and services.

The rise of big data will also continue to reshape business functions, like it has already done for many marketing positions.

"For management the issue is going to be: How do we make decisions? How do we make decisions in a continuous way versus a batch way," said Davenport, describing the ongoing flow of information that companies must monitor and act upon today versus the old data warehouse model. "It keeps on coming so you have to establish processes to manage and decide on it."

About the USC Marshall School of Business
Consistently ranked among the nation's premier schools, USC Marshall is internationally recognized for its emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation, social responsibility and path-breaking research. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, one of the world's leading business centers and the U.S. gateway to the Pacific Rim, Marshall offers its 5,700-plus undergraduate and graduate students a unique world view and impressive global experiential opportunities. With an alumni community spanning 123 countries, USC Marshall students join a worldwide community of thought leaders who are redefining the way business works.