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No generation gap here: Business leaders of all ages in sync on tech

Lauren Brousell | Nov. 19, 2014
Millennial executives and Fortune 500 leaders share the same forward-looking views on disruptive technologies. They also agree that the capability to adapt to change quickly is a key to edging out competitors.

Having Big Data Isn't Enough
McLean-Foreman, who has launched several start-ups, said he couldn't have built Teikametrics without the capabilities of big data and analytics. Those technologies "identified different opportunities to buy the right amount of inventory to predict where prices would go."

VMWare's Scott agreed that the opportunities with big data are tremendous but many companies collect tons of data and don't know what to do with it. "The real promise of big data is not what one company can collect but how it could be combined with an ecosystem and used in an interesting way," he said. He cited his time at Microsoft (he was CIO from 2008 to 2013) when the vendor was only using half of one percent of the data being collected. The actually useful data was an even smaller amount, he added.

Jonathan Klein, founder and CEO of Cimation, a spinoff of Audubon Engineering, does work for an oil company that is using data from sensors to find more accurate drilling locations. "They are sending the data to India to look for statistical patterns," he said. "The success rate of [drilling] has gone up tenfold and the stock price is climbing incredibly."

The Boston Police Department is performing its own basic data and geospatial analysis and has opened up data sets to the public for analysis. "The challenge is to take it to the next level," said CTO John Daley. "We can't afford a data scientist."

During the Boston Marathon bombing investigation, the police department was overwhelmed with information from social media, he said. They've since used that situation as an example of how to use data in a rudimentary way for everyday police operations.

David Chaos, CIO of Santander Bank USA isn't using big data but rather, is focused on managing risk and improving data traceability so the company can have a single view of its customer. "Predicting what people need will help us help people," he said, referring to the decreased need for physical bank branches and technologies customers want such as mobile check deposit.

How to Land (and Keep) Millennials
On the topic of recruiting and retaining millennials, McLean-Foreman said he incentivizes employees by giving them little challenges such as shorter timeframes for coding projects. "People enjoy the idea that they can make a direct impact," he said. "Setting up a very rapid opportunity to keep proving yourself, that's what I like doing."

Scott said he also thinks it's important to have faith in younger employees to handle tougher tasks. "I'm just a fan of pushing people a little harder to see what they can do. It gives them a chance to learn and grow."


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