Risk and Big Data – What Smart Companies are Doing

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utopilogoWe are pleased to feature this Guest Blog post from David Harkleroad, Chief Marketing Officer for Utopia (www.utopiainc.com), a global Enterprise Data Solutions provider. Utopia has won accolades as an “Inc. 5000” company for three years in a row. In addition, Utopia was chosen as an SAP 2010 “Partner of the Year” for North American Field Services, and a Gartner “Cool Vendor” in 2011.

Imagine if BP had been able to process sensor data from its Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the days, or even hours leading up to explosion on April 20, 2010. By the end of 2011, BP calculated it had spent over $14 billion in response activities.

Every minute of every day, massive amounts of data are being collected by smart sensors, smart grids, global positioning systems, smart phone locations and social networks. Technology research firm IDC estimates that more data has been created in the last two years than in all of human history, and that global data created is doubling every two years. This is commonly referred to as Big Data and it consists of huge volumes of structured, unstructured and semi-structured data from multiple sources. 

SAPHANAIn transportation, healthcare, public safety, finance, energy, retail, or just about any industry and business, Big Data is being collected, analyzed and utilized in new ways to help define risk in greater detail, more accurately. For example:

  • The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) estimates annual losses of $15.8 billion from information-related issues in capital projects in 2002! The average data loss due to poorly managed information handover in these capital management projects exceeds one per cent of the total capital project expenditure; for a $1 billion project, that’s $10 million (see Information Handover Challenge in Capital Projects).
  • As consumers expect increased speed and access to their accounts within financial institutions, risk mitigation becomes even more essential. For example, financial institutions can monitor bill payment activity and customer interactions such as user login, session information and account maintenance issues, generating automatic alerts and actions when suspicious activity takes place.
  • Advances in digital sensor technology in electric meters, industrial equipment, cars, oil lines and train tracks help manage risks by constantly measuring numerous statistical categories such as weight, temperature, vibration, location and even humidity. When temperatures rise and parts are at risk of failure, managers and engineers can issues concerns before problems become major.
  • Researchers at Rice University have built aStorm Risk Calculatorthat generates risk profiles for residents in the path of weather systems. Residents, government officials and insurance companies can take preventative measures to help save property and lives (see When Big Data and Hurricane Isaac Collide).

Smart companies are putting in place the tools that will help them harness the power of this deluge of data, not just to mitigate losses from disaster or financial risks, but to minimize opportunity risks as well.

  • In healthcare and pharmaceutical research, doctors and scientists are conducting incredibly detailed genome research that helps link disease to our DNA. Cancer research and pharmaceutical trials are leveraging the power of in-memory computing to more efficiently process the massive amounts of data collected to arrive at a cure (see Innovative Ways Companies use Big Data), not only saving lives and reducing costs, but creating new revenue opportunities.
  • Retailers are better serving their customers by incorporating complex statistical analysis and customer analytics models. Every second, the big data footprint of these customers expands across multiple channels, proving highly detailed usage preferences and purchase behavior. Successful retailers are leveraging this heretofore untapped data resource to better meet the needs of their customers.
  • And many organizations are focusing their efforts on lifecycle marketing – monitoring customer life-change transactions such as a change in job, change in marital status or a home purchase to better offer relevant products and customer service. Companies monitoring these changes, comparing actual lifestyle changes with actual purchases made, developing new products and offers that better meet their customers’ needs..

The power of data is exploding and the tools available to save lives and improve efficiency are increasing on a daily basis. However, you can’t manage what you can’t measure. It’s vital to indentify and incorporate a clear data management strategy to efficiently manage Big Data and reduce risk, leading to safety and success.


dhh photoDavid Harkleroad is Chief Marketing Officer for Utopia (www.utopiainc.com), a global Enterprise Data Solutions provider that serves customers in oil & gas, mining, utilities, manufacturing, high tech, consumer goods and retail, with unique methodologies to deliver significant cost savings and improvements that help unleash the true potential of the enterprise. Its solutions include systems integration, data strategy and master data management (MDM), as well as data migration, quality and governance services. Prior to joining Utopia, he was CMO for Hay Group, a global management consultancy and VP of Brand and Marketing Strategy for IBM.


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