The Economist’s Jan 19th survey on Offshoring and Outsourcing made an interesting point about the rising value of data to an organization. The article mentioned that the outsourcing movement grew by moving non-essential, repetitive jobs to 3rd party provides (mostly in India).:
Some activities that used to be considered peripheral to a company’s profits, such as data management, are now seen as essential, so they are less likely to be entrusted to a third-party supplier thousands of miles away.
and this quote from GM’s CIO:
“IT has become more pervasive in our business and we now consider it a big source of competitive advantage,”
I have seen some articles argue that data is starting to be viewed as a critical economic input, just like capital and labor. These quotes tend to highlight that. If data is important to you, you do not want to simply outsource that to the lowest bidder.
A recent BusinessWeek article discussed GE’s entry into the Analytics space. GE is starting to put sensors on it industrial machines and building the capability to analyze that data.
As an example, the article’s opening paragraph mentions that a jet engine can collect a terabyte of data on one cross-country flight:
On Nov. 29, Jeff Immelt pulled out the really big iron.General Electric’s (GE) chief executive climbed up to take the stage at a modified film studio in San Francisco and stood next to a 6.87-ton jet engine built by his company. Inside this mass of twisted metal—Immelt told the spectators at the company’s Minds and Machines event—were 20 sensors that monitor the engine’s performance, generating part of the roughly 1 terabyte of information produced on a one-way, cross-country flight. In the years ahead, GE plans to analyze this information as it’s never been analyzed before in a quest to build smarter machines and more lucrative services that it can sell to customers.
The prize? With a 1% improvement, GE claims it can save its customers billions of dollars over a 15-year period.
This definitely fits the trend of firms putting sensors on various types of equipment to help drive improvements.
Northwestern recently published an article on the research being done with complex networks.
The results have some nice applications:
The researchers studied a variety of biological, technological and social networks and found that all these networks have evolved according to basic growth mechanisms. The findings could be particularly useful in understanding how something — a disease, a rumor or information — spreads across a network.
Northwestern’s Fall 2012 magazine features various researchers who are working in the area of Big Data. The need to analyze Big Data is a reason that NU started the Masters in Analytics program:
“I’m getting calls from firms that see the value in big data, but they don’t know how to extract it,” says analytics expert Diego Klabjan, professor of industrial engineering and management sciences. “It’s definitely a very, very hot area. Everyone’s looking for expertise. We’ve had tremendous interest from companies. These days every company needs analytics. They need to hire a workforce that is capable of analyzing data.”
To that end, McCormick recently developed a master of science program in analytics. The inaugural class of the 15-month program is learning data warehousing techniques, the science behind analytics, and the business aspects of analytics. Directed by Klabjan, the program has its own computing cluster to take on big-data problems, and students will each do a summer internship. They will learn to identify patterns and trends, interpret and gain insights from vast quantities of structured and unstructured data, and communicate their findings in business terms.