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Using Big Data to Solve Big Problems

In the past decade, the exponential increase in computing power has opened the door to increasingly more impactful ways of using big data, commonly understood as “data that contains greater variety arriving in increasing volumes and with ever-higher velocity.”

This increase in volume and velocity of data presents significant challenges and opportunities for today’s businesses, some of which were presented as part of the roundtable session “Using Big Data to Solve Big Problems” at the first annual EmTech Digital Latin America event. Following the success of the event in San Francisco and other international environments, this was the first time that EmTech was hosted in Latin America. The event was hosted in partnership with the MIT Technology Review, Opinno – the Spanish-language publisher of the magazine – Amazon Web Services, Visa, and Genesys.

The roundtable session, moderated by Martha Rivera, IPADE professor of Marketing Management, included the participation of Wolfram Rozas, Director of the Big Data & Analytics Executive Program of EOI; Angel Morfin Wolf, Vice President – SAP Leonardo & Analytics of SAP México; Raúl Miranda, Head of Strategy and Partnerships, LATAM of Relativity6; and Cristian Jara, Collective Learning Group at MIT Media Lab.

Martha Rivera, Wolfram Rozas, Angel Morfin Wolf, Raúl Miranda, and Cristian Jara.

“These days, most businesses have access to huge amounts of data, but often it’s not well organized—it’s available in different data sets or in physical form,” said Angel Morfin. “It’s crucially important for management to take responsibility for this information so that big data strategies are integrated into a company’s fundamental business strategy. The tools are available to be able to access and process this information, but management has to fully commit.”
All of the panelists were in agreement that there has to be buy-in from the whole company for big data projects to be successful, but emphasis was also placed on the importance of having someone within the company who is responsible for these efforts. In general, the CEO was identified as the most immediate person responsible for creating an environment of innovation and encouraging big data projects, however, although some companies have even hired Chief Data Officers to manage big data projects.

The session also focused on some of the immediate business impacts that big data represents, including AI and neural networks (chatbots), automation (classifying customer complaints), and real-time assessment of everyday business information, including inventory, customer behavior, equipment status, and more.

All of the panelists were in agreement that big data represents major opportunities across a broad spectrum of different use cases. However, the data itself means nothing if its not processed and interpreted effectively. Management needs to take responsibility and commit to understanding how big data can impact the business and how to encourage an environment that fundamentally integrates big data into daily business operations.

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