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Big data projects gaining steam, but not due to the CIO

Clint Boulton | Sept. 21, 2015
The number of big data projects businesses are kicking off is increasing, according to new data from Gartner. But other members of the C-suite – not the CIO – are initiating the plans.

That's already happening at organizations such as H.D. Smith, where the pharmaceutical wholesaler is using cloud software to analyze data about the products it sells to hospitals and small pharmacies. The company’s partners and customers can query current inventory aging and expiration metrics, pricing, supply-chain performance and other details to optimize their operations.

"Providing a self-service way for our customers to gain valuable information about our operations matters to them," says CIO David Guzman, who is leading the big data project, a strategic priority for the company. Guzman says that while the cloud software has significantly helped the company from a financial and operational perspective, he declined to provide any metrics for the privately held H.D. Smith.

H.D. Smith may be unwilling to share the fruits of its analytics labors, but at least it knows what those fruits taste like. Of the organizations investing in big data, 58 percent expect investments to produce a positive return on their investment, but 24 percent of them are not currently measuring ROI and 11 percent don't plan to measure ROI at all.

“Measuring ROI is difficult at the best of times, and the exploratory nature of big data projects increases this difficulty,” Heudecker and Kart wrote. “Some enterprises have likely tried to measure ROI, but were unsuccessful. This is consistent with the fact that the main big data challenge for the past three years has been determining value.”


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