"You're going to get a much tighter feedback loop. Your data is going to double next year and double again in six months after that," Hauck says. You can ignore that information and just guess, he continues, or you can analyze the data, test a hypothesis and see what works. "In the broader world, we are awash in data but bereft of insight. I think our value prop is around creating more and more insight."
CRM is the classic example of this, Hauck says. CRM data is all over the place, and sometimes it's corrupted. The challenge is getting all that information normalized and into a model that gives you a good idea of a customer's propensity to spend. From there, you have to manage that model against what actually happens and fine-tune it. Being able to look across all your data sets to find these answers is one of the promises that big data technology brings to the table.
Most people talk about applying big data principles to Internet data, crowdsourcing and sentiment analysis, but Hauck says Dun & Bradstreet gets a lot of value from looking at internal systems in new ways.
"We look through our products to see what people are using. We're promoting features in products in ways we haven't before, and we're taking features out of products based on usage," he says, adding that this provides value related to upselling, cross-selling and point-of-sale decision-making.
Librarians, Data Scientists and Master Data Management
Before you can obtain these insights, though, you have to roll up your sleeves and finally implement those massive master data management projects that have been sitting on the back burning, waiting for a strong business case.
Big data could just be it. Unfortunately, there's a dual challenge here. "Good librarianism," to use Hauck's lingo, and big data share a lack of critical talent.
"The biggest challenge for me is getting people who are competent in using this stuff at scale," Hauck says. "Everyone can build a 100-by-100 cube with this stuff. The guys that have done a billion-table join? Not as many. You can try to rent the technical skills, but, unless they understand the context of your business, it just takes a couple of years to build up the chops to use this stuff."