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TransUnion: Transformation and the Path to Economic Development

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TransUnion: Transformation and the Path to Economic Development
By Charles W. Stryker

The “computer age” of the late 1960s and early 70s marked an historical period that witnessed hyper growth in today’s version of the Big Data and Analytics ecosphere.  Early Information Industry adopters of computing capabilities were able to capitalize on their first mover advantage to lead their sectors in the marketplace.  One company that embraced technology from the beginning of the computer age is TransUnion.  TransUnion got started in 1968. Originally, TransUnion was established as a rail car holding company.

The first acquisition TransUnion made that set the company on the path of credit information was, according to Wikipedia, “the Credit Bureau of Cook County, which possessed and maintained 3.6 million card files.”

Referring to the early consolidation in this burgeoning credit information industry, Mark Furletti of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, wrote that, “Also during this decade, the industry harnessed the power of computers and databases to process, organize, and report on credit data. Those agencies that adopted computer technology realized operating efficiencies that allowed them to move data faster and attract more business. This, along with the costs associated with migrating to computer-based systems, compelled smaller operations that were not yet automated to sell their files and exit the industry.”

Consolidation in the 1970s led to the establishment of three main credit reporting agencies that would compete for market share for the next nearly 50 years.  All competitors used strategic acquisitions to build data volumes.  Today TransUnion, one of the original three, is using Big Data and Analytics best practices to better serve its customers and to advance the company’s core capabilities and core data assets.

To help understand how TransUnion is able to lead the credit/risk information sector’s Big Data and Analytics strategy, we had a conversation with TransUnion’s CEO, Jim Peck. Jim talked about TransUnion’s strategy of embracing Big Data and Analytics as a cornerstone of the company’s business plan.  He said he knew the future would require TransUnion to continue to build its data assets and also go a step further to embrace the added value that strong technology and analytics would bring to the success of the company.

“I still believe that you have to have the data, the content.  If you don’t have that, your analytics are meaningless. But the analytics and technology transform the data into actionable insights that help our customers make smarter decisions,” said Peck.

“To answer the challenge, we completely overhauled our technology.  We built a platform that was going to allow programmers to ingest data, clean the data, act on the data, integrate the data, amass the data, and in our case, in a global way, prepare to do the analytics on top of it.”

Peck was determined to have TransUnion be the market leader so he looked for ways to have the analytics edge engrained in the company culture.

“We decided that the answer was to bring in industry experts to lead specific vertical markets and appoint leaders who really understand sectors like financial services, credit card markets, or the mortgage, auto or insurance industries.  These people fundamentally understand these sectors so they know the problems, and the opportunities, facing these businesses.  They can articulate needs and help drive much better decisions around risk or policy setting.”

Before Peck’s arrival at TransUnion, Experian and Equifax had moved into the credit information industry leadership roles, especially in the 1980s and 1990s.  As Jim Peck himself says, “TransUnion was rolling forward and doing a good job, but it was a market follower as opposed to a market leader.”

Peck believes that the Big Data practices TransUnion has undertaken have, over time, propelled the company to a leadership position in the Information Industry.

“The Big Data story here, I think, is that TransUnion was a very good company, but it was sitting on wonderful data assets and needed to evolve for the company to take advantage of all these assets. And so, when I came on board I had a clear vision of what we needed to do to unlock its value in meaningful ways.”

TransUnion is very customer responsive these days, which Jim Peck attributes to both culture and smart technology choices.  “We’ve organized the information and we’ve built the tools that will allow our customers to look at all our data and see how the decisions they make compare to the rest of the industry.  They can play with different parameters, allowing them to predict different outcomes. Maybe they could expand their portfolio by lending in different ways, or examine other solutions from the data.  And, with our technology they can do this in minutes or hours, where it used to take weeks.

“This kind of collaboration expands our customer’s addressable market, and also benefits the end consumer.  What produces this value, frankly, is analytics. It’s all analytics. For the customer, the analytics might produce certain kinds of scores based on certain kinds of data.  From this point, our customer can say with confidence that ‘this person appears to be this kind of risk right now.’ With that information, our bank customer can take this group of people and safely give them better offers of credit. That’s really what our customers in the banking sector are trying to do.  We allow our customers to precisely decide what kind of individuals they really want to do business with and not treat everyone generically.  That’s really important when you’re dealing with someone who’s historically been “underbanked” – our data can evaluate the risk to the bank and help them get better credit terms.”

“That’s really a powerful spot to be in and we believe at the same time it promotes good things for society.   We believe that the more information an organization has, the better they will be able to do business and we believe the more the consumer understands their own situation, the better they’ll be able to control getting access to credit and insurance.  We call this Information for Good.”

TransUnion operates in over 30 countries, and has strategically focused on countries like India, Colombia and South Africa, that have the social and economic foundation to increase the middle-class standards-of-living.  According to Peck, “If you go to a country that’s struggling with institutions providing credit, it’s really hard for that society to develop.  When you can’t borrow or lend money, people don’t get access to things they need for social mobility and advancement.  We provide the best information and analytics possible so that banks and lending institutions can make credit granting decisions.  As a company, we want to embrace that and keep advancing the ball.  We believe that we can help keep the wheels of commerce turning and even improve the standard of living for people.  That mission helps everyone.”




Dr. Charles Stryker was the keynote speaker at DMAW’s Data Strategy Forum on BigData’s Past, Present & Future

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Dr. Charles Stryker was the keynote speaker at DMAW’s Data Strategy Forum on BigData’s Past, Present & Future

Dr. Charles Stryker finished speaking about BigData’s Past, Present & Future.


You can find out more about The Direct Marketing Association of Washington here.

Dr. Charles Stryker spoke about data driven marketing at the Harvard Club

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Dr. Charles Stryker spoke about data driven marketing

Dr. Charles Stryker finished speaking about data driven marketing at the Harvard Club.


You can find out more about The Harvard Club here.

Trends in Big Data and Analytics. New Tools for a Smart Future

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Today is UBA Trends Day

Dr. Charles Stryker finished speaking at #UBATD on Trends in Big Data and Analytics. New Tools for a Smart Future.

Here are some pictures from the event.


Big Data and Analytics Panel Discussion: The State of Big Data

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Big Data and Analytics Panel Discussion: The State of Big Data

By Charles W. Stryker

In the fall of 2016, VDC hosted an event, VDC Connect, in New York City to bring together the leading thinkers in the Big Data and Analytics ecosphere.  VDC Connect provided a unique opportunity for leading executives to share with each other and the selected audience of invitees the lessons they have learned in bringing their firms into the world of Big Data and Analytics.


The first panel, reported in a previous blog, illustrated the dramatic corporate transformations occurring that are data-centric and revolutionizing industries. This second panel was designed to describe the current state of Big Data and Analytics  in the most comprehensive and informed manner, inviting executives who are at the center of driving the Big Data and Analytics implementations for global brands. We asked them to share their thinking about the current state of Big Data and Analytics.


Neil Isford, IBM General Manager, Cognitive Industry Solutions, started the discussion.  In his position, Neil is responsible for all sales and go-to-market strategies for a set of cognitive solutions for the 14 major industries that IBM serves around the world. His toolkit to do this work includes the Watson capability, which has already become a household name.  He also has the broad spectrum of analytics products that IBM owns and supports. As reported in the press, Cognitive Solutions has been described by IBM as their future growth engine. Neil is a point person to make that happen for IBM.  According to Neil…

“If we just look at the last couple years, I think the biggest change is the ability to start leveraging unstructured data. It’s leveraging what the industry now calls “Cognitive Systems”, systems that can perform natural language processing and deep learning capabilities to create business value from what is 80% of the data that exist. That’s not just structured text and emails; it’s everything that’s encoded in language, videos, and it’s no longer a future promise. We’re seeing companies do it today.  In the medical field, today’s doctors can treat cancer with access to all the research and the medical records available throughout the world.  Oil and gas companies use Big Data to educate their engineers so they see all the studies and all the tests that have been done so they can better service an oil rig. Insurance companies use it to better sell insurance over the web. It’s no longer a future promise. This is today.

“Big Data has evolved.  It used to be a data governance issue.  I think we’re getting our hands more around how to define the data, who gets to see the data, who can change the data.  Better tools and better processes help.  Now, I think the data security and privacy issues are the ones that need more focus.  The threat is both external and internal and it needs attention from both external and internal sources.

“We have coined a new term, ‘embodied cognition’, that applies to many devices out there now that have been dumb and now there are great opportunities to make them smart: the automobile, for example.

“Think about the ability to take any piece of hardware but now have it interact; have it benefit from cognitive services, like conversation. Now think about the fact that the automobile now knows when you get in.  It sets the seat, the climate, the entertainment, and knows where you’re going from your calendar.  It knows the weather conditions; it knows the road conditions, etc.

“We’re starting to see hotel chains utilizing robots.  While these robots aren’t quite at an affordable price point yet, where we’re seeing them everywhere, I think there’s a huge opportunity with Avatars where they’re software embodied.  As such, they can react to your voice or your emotions.  They can look like a human or they can be symbolic where they will change colour based on mood.

“We’re also starting to see very interesting opportunities to improve customer experience as we apply cognitive capabilities to things like physical spaces – from operating rooms for surgeons to where a financial advisor might bring his client for optimum effect.  I was with a company last week where we built an avatar demo for a cruise ship company. Think about embodying the cruise ship cabin with the ability to react to every aspect of your day. . Embodied cognition holds tremendous opportunities as we advance the Internet of Things (IOT).  We will have this cognitive capability improve many aspects of our life in this new world.”


Hank Weghorst is CTO of Avention.  Avention was known as the owners of the OneSource product suite. Hank is responsible for all design implementation related to building one of the best Big Data and Analytics platforms for the enterprise B2B marketplace. Hank is the holder of many software patents both in communications and, in three dimensional imagery which, when it began, was probably one of the most intensive data driven businesses that existed. Many of the computer effects that people watch today are based on the patents that Hank holds.

As Hank put it, “The biggest transition that we’ve gone through recently is a business change whereby the awareness of C-level executives has been raised concerning the value that data can bring to their businesses decision making.  Big Data has taken on corporate significance; it has become a pull by companies instead of a push by suppliers. In the last few years things have switched and now it’s more likely that an initiative from the top will produce value through Big Data, whether it’s to find efficiencies or drive new revenue.

“Increasingly, I’ve been asked to look at business problems in terms of possible data centric solutions. We look at the data we have internally and the data that is or should be available in the marketplace and need to bring it all together.  That’s a beautiful thing for the data world, because now all of a sudden there’s exposure up and down the stack. There’s actually support from the top levels down. And, after having been someone who’s pushed and pushed for years from the bottom up, it’s nice to finally feel some lifting.

“Frustration in the organization happens because of the decentralization of the problem.   What I mean by that is we’ll be dealing with a functional group that really wants to attack this problem but realizes that half the data we need is in other functional groups. So the data is siloed and the problems are siloed.

“Then you get the other end of the spectrum which is top down.  A Big Data initiative appears to be so large that nobody can solve it. Sometimes the project is too big and it becomes hard to identify the problem that needs to be solved.  We use best practices to steer more toward smaller functional problems with data that is within the purview of the group that actually has the initiative and the wherewithal to get it done. Success with this approach encourages more top down support.

“Success creates centralized initiatives with a top down push. It’s really interesting that people in functional silos really want this to happen but yet can’t get access to data because it’s three hops away and they have to issue a recommendation to have IT plan for it and get budget for it. Many people feel frustrated because they know they can drive value immediately from the Big Data project. We find out what data is within their purview and then what can we bring to them in terms of external data to the organization.  We put it together with the client in a way that can show immediate value.

“I am often asked how my experience in the movie making business relates to the data business.  There are similarities when you consider that we had a visual database that described everything we wanted to show, including textures and colors.  Where we are with the data world for B2B with sales and marketing type data is the equivalent of making a picture of the prospect. The next step is to make a movie of that prospect or customer. In other words, how does that company or person change over time?

“If we make a movie of a sales prospect, we will want to have enough data to know when a major event occurs in the company.  There are studies done in the B2B sales world that say as much as 80% of net new buying by companies is event based: they get a new executive in charge; they open a new office; or, they produce a new product.  You tend to make technology purchases in relationship to new initiatives.

“Events happen over time. So if we’re not collecting information over time, then we’re missing the opportunity to identify key change events. What happens over time?  Now, if you relate that to the difference between a photograph and a movie, clarity becomes apparent.  For example, If I was to hand you a photo of Mohammed Ali you would say, ‘that guy looks like he would be a pretty good puncher’.  If I hand you a video of an Ali fight, there would be absolutely no doubt in your mind that he is a good puncher. And so we will grow up as an industry, just as we grew up in the film world.   I think the data world in this industry is going to grow up from characteristics styled data to time series based data.

“Another aspect to consider is the impact of “The Internet of Things”. Even though it is such a buzz word today, it’s going to create an enormous amount of data that’s going to be usable in many ways.  The future of data looks very good!”


Rick Erwin is the president of Audience Solutions for Acxiom. Audience Solutions is the core data business of Acxiom.  In this capacity, Rick develops strategy, growth and profitability programs for Acxiom. He is immersed in working with global enterprise clients that have been Acxiom’s customers for, in some cases, decades.  In other cases, Rick also deals with brand enterprises, when they are focused on digital transformation.

As Rick put it, “The arc of this phenomenon of Big Data is awfully reminiscent of the arc of the phenomenon of the Internet. It’s just the data content side of the same sort of arc, and what I mean by that is if this was the late 1990’s we could be assembled to figure out what’s happening with this new thing called the Internet that’s transforming business. The Internet is a part of most business processes in almost every company.  When it comes to Big Data, we can see all this fabulous progress we’ve made, but we also see how early on we are.

“The biggest thing that we see is the shift of the advertising and marketing business to one that was predominantly based on the performance of a medium to now one that will be predominantly based on the performance of an audience or the individual in an audience.  This shift from media based to audience based is causing the kind of disruption that is really wrenching and pulling apart business models across the enterprise.

“We live in the world of marketing and advertising.  Typical e-commerce managers have a ton of anonymous users visiting their properties and these anonymous users probably get some kind of identifier like a cookie dropped on their browser or a mobile identifier.  If that same user comes back on a different device, they look like a different person to that e-commerce manager.

“We have this enormous Big Data identity resolution system called Abilitec. Abilitec is able to resolve any form of consumer identity that’s ever appeared back to a single numeric identifier. That numeric identifier can be put on a bank’s internal customer database so that the bank can identify you as one customer across all their lines of business.

“In just the past 6 months we’ve enabled this system that processes a billion identity records an hour.  Now the e-commerce manager can see hundreds of millions of anonymous digital identifiers that have visited one of their properties.  Now, for the first time, they can get a portrait of how a single human being navigates their web properties and that’s a huge leap forward.  It’s kind of non-sexy to talk about how we enabled it in the background, but in terms of the value it creates for marketers and advertisers, it’s huge.  That’s the way we tackle the big moves in Big Data.  We try to do things that may not seem very exciting in the back office but it produces leverage for our marketer clients in the front office.

“I’m fascinated by the natural gulf that always happens by the state of the art technology and then the ability or the willingness for humans to do something with it.  I look for things that I think might help bridge that gulf. The Internet of Things will create an enormous amount of data that’s going to be used.  It will be interesting to see what we can do with it all.”


Randy Bean is Contributing Big Data Author for the Wall Street Journal & Forbes and CEO of New Vantage Partners, LLC.  Randy is a contributing Big Data author that you read about in the press all the time. And for those of you more immersed in the topic, he’s also a contributing author to the Harvard Business Review and the MIT Sloan Management Review. Randy is the most recognised author in the field of Big Data and Analytics.

“Because I write a lot, I always have to be thinking of what is the story that holds people’s interest. So let me tell you my story briefly. I started as a COBOL programmer.  I wasn’t interested in the programming, but was interested in all this data that was being assembled and organised.  When I asked colleagues what they were doing with this data, they said they were storing it.  So to me it seemed like a tremendous missed opportunity to gain insight into the information that the organisation had at its fingertips.

“Fast forward to 2011, when I picked up a publication on Big Data. My first reaction was, isn’t this what I’ve been doing for the past several decades?   Part of that answer was no in that there is a whole set of new tools and technologies that really empower the business today that weren’t available earlier.

“Big Data programs are proliferating.  According to a survey we conducted of Fortune 500 executives, 63% of firms reported having a Big Data program in production, up from just 5% in 2012.   63% of firms reported that they expect to invest greater than 10 billion dollars in Big Data in 2017.  Significantly, 54% of firms reported they appointed a chief data officer, up from 12% in 2012.  That points to the centrality of data in organizations. 70% of firms say data is of critical importance to their firms, up from 21% in 2012.  This development illustrates the fact that the concept of Big Data and Analytics is being elevated in importance in the minds of boards of directors and the C Suite.

“We do a lot of work within the financial services industry, which is probably the largest investor and has the biggest impact in terms of total investment in Big Data Analytics.  Recently I wrote a story about American Express and how they’ve been able to streamline the credit process through Big Data Analytics.   They are able to look at 10 years of data down to the most minute level of credit transaction and make decisions in milliseconds. Now they can look at somebody’s complete credit before approving each and every transaction.  That’s something that’s extraordinary.  It hadn’t been able to be achieved before and it both streamlines credit approval processes and helps mitigate credit risk as well.

“Big Data Analytics can be used to fight famine, fight disease, and address many other social issues.  There are a lot of interesting things from the social perspective that Big Data Analytics can address.  For example, I was talking with one of the major banks the other day and they said this concept is very important for big corporations as well because they have a lot of data that can be used for positive social purposes. Good social responsibility can also be good business.  This social imperative of Big Data in corporate America is something we’re going to hear more about in the coming days and years.”






Transformation Through Big Data

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Transformation Through Big Data
By Charles W. Stryker

VDC Connect was an event organized by Venture Development Center at the Time, Inc. headquarters in lower Manhattan.  This event was an opportunity to bring together top information industry leaders who are embracing the development of Big Data initiatives in their companies.  The first panel discussion focused on the transformational experiences of three leading media companies.  Each company was represented by the C-level executive with the responsibility to grow their company through the use of Big Data strategies.

Three themes emerged from the first panel.  The first was “Transformation”.  Each panel participant is intimately involved in a transformational change in their company.  Secondly, each panelist recognized that he was witnessing a culture change surrounding the company’s transformation.  Finally, the presenters agreed that the use of Big Data analytics was central to the success of the transformation.

The first presenter was Joe Ripp, Executive Chairman of Time, Inc.  We asked Joe to talk about his experiences bringing a transformational change to Time, Inc., one of the largest and comprised of many of the most recognizable print medium brands in the world (People, Time, InStyle, Sports Illustrated, etc.).

Joe explained the background behind Time’s decision to embark on a Big Data strategy.  He said that the Company needed to find a way to answer advertisers who were demanding more and more information about the effectiveness of their ads.  Joe explained that traditional magazine publishers can’t measure advertising effectiveness accurately.  “The advertisers were demanding answers: ‘How effective was my ad?  Did it change the perception of my brand? Am I getting reasonable return for my investment?’

“Those questions are radically transforming the whole media landscape. Billions of dollars are being diverted into new types of media, not because they’re better, but because they can measure better.”  Joe was convinced that Time Inc had to adapt, to transform itself into a modern, relevant, digital media company that could compete and succeed in the 21st Century.

“Transformation is very hard!” said Joe Ripp.  “You must ask yourself, ‘Do you have a culture of transformation and do you have a culture of change?’ If you don’t, you’re going to fail!”

Joe’s conviction about embracing change is compelling.  As he put it, “Culture trumps strategy every day of the week. You must make sure that if you’re in the organization, accepting change is imperative.  If someone cautions, ‘We don’t do it that way’, you have a problem.  If you look around the corner and say, ‘That’s not going to affect us’, then you have a problem. If you have an organization that’s telling you why it won’t work, then you have a problem. You need to have an organization that’s embracing all the things that are different and move forward.

“You used to look forward and see competitors coming at you five years out, seven years out.  Now you look out thirty days and can’t see them coming at you. So you have to be prepared and understand that disruption is going to be an everyday event. And you must build the kind of culture-based organization that’s not fearful of that but embraces it and understands it. It’s an exciting time to embrace change. If you get that right, then transformation can happen.”

“For Time Inc., the next big thing is the whole distributed content world.  We will produce 40,000 videos this year.  But for us and all major media companies, the challenge is customer attention.  The average attention span of a human being right now is 7 seconds. The average attention span of a goldfish is 8. So the problem that media companies have is, how do you break through that clutter? The thing that makes it even more challenging is people are being distracted by devices all the time. Digital distraction is a real problem for media companies.  How do you break through that clutter?  And, as we’re trying to engage our consumers, how do we know my ad is getting through? There’s more clutter in advertising going on now than ever before in the history of man. So advertisers are asking questions like how much engagement was there? Was the ad actually viewable?  Was it viewed by a bot or not?”

Following Joe Ripp was Mark Roszkowski.  Mark is Senior Vice President and Head of Corporate Development, Strategy & Strategic Partnerships at AOL.  Mark has been at the center of Verizon’s acquisition of AOL and he has been actively managing that merger.  Mark is now in the center of completing AOL’s acquisition of Yahoo. The combined companies will have over 1 billion active users and a global digital delivery network and financial capacity of Verizon.

Mark described the transformational nature of the thinking that was essential to getting the acquisitions right.  “We had a strong belief that content was a key attractor and builder of audiences and communities but, over time, we felt that it was important to supplement and / or support that content delivery with platforms that enabled distribution, personalization, engagement and monetization.   Ultimately that’s all underpinned by insights that are driven from data.

“The transition we’re on is content oriented.  Content has become commoditized to some extent and we believe we can enable not only ourselves to build great brands and promote those brands globally, but leveraging our platform to then help other brands build their businesses globally on our platform of great tools, technology and data that we can bring to the table.  There’s a massive opportunity bringing together great content, massive distribution and great data that personalizes, engages, and hopefully monetizes consumers.  But first and foremost you have to figure out what data do you actually have.  Is it useful? Where does it sit? Is it silent?

“We’re investing in the Internet of Things, the combination of mobile connectivity and sensors that essentially pulls data from anything that you can imagine.  You can think about the connected house, all the data that’s being developed through consumer interactions with dishwashers or refrigerators or stereo systems or media devices within the household.  Ultimately, as you leverage all that data, we see the intersection of what we call conversational user experiences leveraging the device in your pocket.   We look at your device such that the combination of all the data and artificial intelligence we provide will be able to drive what we would call notification. The machine that’s going to think for you and predict for you and notify you of where you need to be, why you need to be there.  It will tell you you’re out of paper towels.  Then the paper towels are just going to show up on your front doorstep.  You get a text and click to accept the purchase.

“We’re still spending too much time in front of the TV.  Driving towards addressability is huge. It dictates efficacy, whether you call it contribution or ‘controversion’.  The point is that addressability allows you to measure impact.

“It’s going to be a really interesting time for the next 25 years.”

The final panellist for the session was Matt Marolda, Chief Analytics Officer of Legendary Entertainment.  Legendary is known for the movies it produces, such as Jurassic World, Straight Outta Compton, Godzilla or The Dark Knight trilogy, to name a few.

When the CEO of Legendary made a commitment to transform the way film is developed, created and marketed using Data and Analytics, he called on Matt. Matt previously was the founder of StratBridge where he created an analytics platform for sports teams to make better decisions about player acquisition, game preparation, and in-game strategies and tactics.

As Matt explained it, “If we can use data analytics to reduce media spend by being more efficient and more targeted, then that’s a material impact for our business.  It goes right to our bottom line. It begs the question of what other benefits can come from analytics. What films should we produce?  How should we cast them?  What are the optimum release dates?  Previously, all these questions used a very intuition based approach.  Using analytics, then, we’ve provided answers to all those key business questions and others as well.

“We’re trying to take the data that we have and drive towards informed action, whether it’s a decision or a marketing intervention. And the crux of it all is being able to understand people on a fundamental level which means on an individual level. That approach impacts everything we do.

“When it comes to the marketing side of things, data for us is all about trying to understand people at a microscopic level to deliver the right message at the right time.  We strive to do it with precision so we can tailor creative to impact what messages we serve to what segments of people really down to groups of hundreds.

“We don’t want to treat customers as a monolithic audience.  We look at them as a collection of many segmented groups. That way, we can tweak the creative to be much more targeted.

“So data is the currency for us in all those actions and without that data, we wouldn’t be able to get that precision.

“My challenge was that as soon as I walked into Legendary, more or less the first day, I had to deal with people who are very creative.  Their jobs were to make movies and tell stories.  While I was about to enable them with the ability to have data infused into everything, natural and understandable trepidation existed.

“My analogy was with sports.  I explained there was never a point in which analytics created a player. But analytics always tried to put the player in the best position to succeed. And so that attitude enabled the data to actually become a viable part of our strategy at Legendary.  I think that without that attitude, there would have been rejection from the beginning.  The challenge is always to treat the data with respect.  The key is once you have corporate cognisance about the power of data, then you are able to fold it into the rest of the business in a way that’s not intimidating and not threatening.  That way everyone in the organization can actually realize its potential.”

All three executives who framed their individual experiences transforming culture within challenging corporate environments represent the disruptive kind of thinking that is propelling Big Data Analytics into the center of corporate growth strategies for the future.





Data in the News for the week of November 28, 2016

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Data news around the water cooler this week: Stirista makes new data segments available on a weekly to monthly basis * LiveRamp acquires Arbor and Circulate to increase people based marketing and leadership in identity resolution * Your cell phone number may soon identify you as easily as your social security number * and more.

Are you looking to purchase data or possibly figure out how to monetize the data you currently own? Contact us today and let’s discuss your options!

Venture Development Center (VDC) is an advisory services firm that assists its clients in identifying, defining, and implementing breakthrough uses of Big Data. The VDC success story is based on the unique ability of the organization to identify new and powerful data assets from the Big Data ecosystem and then develop applications and information use cases that drive solid revenue results and transform existing business practices. The practice areas that characterize VDC projects include creating new products and revenue streams for data owners and bringing forth new information assets and strategies to educate and assist data users to adapt to the rapidly changing world of Big Data.

#VDCConnect2016 – Dialogue on Big Data Analytics

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#VDCConnect2016 – Dialogue on Big Data Analytics
By Charles W. Stryker

On October 6, 2016 Time Inc. provided a venue for some of the leading American Big Data and Analytics players to meet and exchange views on the current state and future challenges around the growing Big Data and Analytics ecosphere.  When we attempt to assess the state of the Big Data Analytics ecology today, we can’t help but be amazed at the accomplishments of some companies.  The leaders of these companies have taken their enterprises into the forefront of the Big Data world.  In so doing, they have experienced challenges and provided solutions that can serve to benefit us all.

Where are we in the evolution of Big Data and Analytics?  In some ways, in the day-to-day work we do, it gets frustrating that we can’t seem to make more progress.   There’s so much to do with the many new, spectacular data sources and remarkable analytics tools that have become available recently.  There have been big advances in data visualization and insight development and it becomes challenging to figure out the best way to take full advantage of these powerful new tools.

As we attempt to define the current state and future prospects for Big Data Analytics, we need to realize that 45 years ago there was no computer-generated data and 15 years ago there were no mobile devices.  This story starts with remembering that, before 1970, there really were no electronic databases. As hard as it is to imagine, only 45 years ago, Big Data and Analytics was done with paper on 3 by 5 file cards.  The analysis would be to read through documents and take pieces of paper and check off yeses or no’s based on what they see and try to draw analytical conclusions.

The birth of the Internet can be traced back to when the first browser was shipped in April of 1993.  That certainly represented a seminal point in the evolution of the Big Data and Analytics practice.  The Internet enabled digital activity that created the first, seemingly infinite supply of data. From 1970 to 1993, the world of electronic data was able to create about one billion gigabytes of data that could be used for decisioning. So it took us roughly 25 years to go from 0 to 1 billion gigabytes in total. Driven heavily from 1993 by the development of the Internet, today there’s about 25 billion gigabytes per day being captured and stored on servers around the world.

Since we went from a total of 1 billion gigabytes for decisioning in 1993 and we’re at 25 billion gigabytes a day of decisioning information, it is little wonder that we’re finding it very difficult to keep up. We also need to consider what we’ve accomplished in such a relatively short period of time. Looking to the future, that 25 billion gigabytes a day is going to look like a drop in the bucket. With the advancement of the Internet of Things and the introduction of digital devices around the world, the traditional pool of compiled data is remaining stagnant while this new world of digital data is growing and will continue to grow at an exponential rate.

The next question is, where does the data come from? The way we look at the world, there are six sources or so where we break out those 25 billion gigabytes and we’ll be adding new sources for sure. Some of the sources of the current supply of data for decisioning comes from published material from around the world.  Then we should consider all of the search data created digitally around the world.  Next, consider all the social interactions that take place digitally around the world.  Then, add in mined data, both off the open and deep web, plus the web infrastructure.  In addition, within this very short history of Big Data, there are about 40 million people around the world who do customized, task-based data entry to create databases for data needs that can’t be serviced through use of automated data collection methods.  Then there’s traditional transaction data which is the fastest growing segment of the Big Data ecosystem as companies that have data as a by-product of what they do see a significant revenue opportunity to translate the data that they own into dollars and slowly but surely, a global business data market exchange is being created.

There are about 700 companies that get the data they use as a by-product of their core business.  They package it and deliver it into decisioning systems around the world. These companies include cell phone service providers, credit card companies, ad serving companies, mobile app developers and many more.

The result of all this is the current state of Big Data. What has come of this development is that there are hundreds of companies that have developed remarkable capabilities to work with this new Big Data ecosphere.

So we are at the second or third inning of what is going to play out to be a very exciting game: massive availability of new data. That’s the 25 billion gigabytes a day growing exponentially. Remarkable advances have transpired in data hosting.   Advances have been made in the field of analytics to identify insights. And, the ability is now there to deliver insights economically to the points of use. Think of, for example.

So all of us who care about this topic have great reason to be excited and interested in how to more rapidly advance because the ability of the technology to outpace our ability to use it is going to continue for a long period of time.  Another way to think about this is the impact of this Big Data and Analytics revolution will likely have the same impact on all of our business and personal lives as the advent of the Internet did from 1993 to today.

A way to look at it is to go back to pre-1993 and ask what do I do today that I do differently than I did in 1993. I deal with my financial needs differently whether it’s business or consumer. I interact with my friends differently than I did. I shop differently.  There’s virtually no aspect of my life or my business life that I do the same today that I did before 1993. And if we do this right and we look forward 10 years, we’re going to be making the same comparisons.

We’re going to be dealing with disease differently because of Big Data. We’re going to deal with our personal lives differently; we’re going to plan trips differently; we’re going to bank differently.  All of those things we did differently that were enabled by the Internet, we’re going to do even more differently, enabled by Big Data and Analytics.

The machine is going to make a lot of decisions for us, not just to provide us data. And we can already see the beginning of driver-less cars. We’re going to potentially hear from IBM about their system that’s advancing the cure for cancer with their data.

In the next few blog installments we will highlight some seminal views on Big Data Analytics by leaders in industry. We are at the beginning of a very interesting time.





Data in the News for the week of November 14, 2016

By | Big Data, Big Data Strategies, Blog, Data Management, Innovation, Social Web | No Comments

Data news sparking conversation this week: UberMedia is named one of the best Entrepreneurial companies in America by Entrepreneur Magazine * Angela Merkel says lack of transparency is skewing the perception of internet search results * Scott Stansfield, President of Centriply spoke about Video Everywhere and Automation during an event at Advertising Week * and more.

Are you looking to purchase data or possibly figure out how to monetize the data you currently own? Contact us today and let’s discuss your options!

Venture Development Center (VDC) is an advisory services firm that assists its clients in identifying, defining, and implementing breakthrough uses of Big Data. The VDC success story is based on the unique ability of the organization to identify new and powerful data assets from the Big Data ecosystem and then develop applications and information use cases that drive solid revenue results and transform existing business practices. The practice areas that characterize VDC projects include creating new products and revenue streams for data owners and bringing forth new information assets and strategies to educate and assist data users to adapt to the rapidly changing world of Big Data.

Data in the News for the week of October 24, 2016

By | Big Data, Big Data Strategies, Blog, Data Management, Innovation, Social Web | No Comments

Data news sparking conversation this week: IBM is investing $200MM in a Watson Internet of Things * Stirista launches Scout, real-time plug in for B2B sales & marketing professionals * LiveRamp launches IdentityLink in effort to evolve from Onboarder to Omnichannel identity matchmaker * and more.

Are you looking to purchase data or possibly figure out how to monetize the data you currently own? Contact us today and let’s discuss your options!

Venture Development Center (VDC) is an advisory services firm that assists its clients in identifying, defining, and implementing breakthrough uses of Big Data. The VDC success story is based on the unique ability of the organization to identify new and powerful data assets from the Big Data ecosystem and then develop applications and information use cases that drive solid revenue results and transform existing business practices. The practice areas that characterize VDC projects include creating new products and revenue streams for data owners and bringing forth new information assets and strategies to educate and assist data users to adapt to the rapidly changing world of Big Data.