Inside Big Data Week Chicago 2014: Loyola University Wants to Help Businesses Understand How to Interpret their Data

From 1 pm to 5 pm on Tuesday May 6, 2014, the Center for Risk Management at Loyola University’s Quinlan School of Business is presenting “Translating Big Data into Business Decisions.”

The goal of the event is to highlight how the value of Big Data is not derived solely from statistics, but from an established business process that requires sound managerial judgment to guide the analytics. This process is what allows managers to leverage their big data to identify the actionable insights to drive better business decisions.

We asked Fady Harfoush, PhD, and Director of Quinlan’s Financial Services & Business Analytics Lab a few questions about the event, why it is vital to establish a process when implementing a big data analytics program, and more.

Q:  Is the idea of translating data into business insights the biggest challenge a company faces when implementing a data analytics program?

Indeed. By itself, Big Data is not a selling proposition; especially when it is not refined. Most of what we call Big Data is also dirty data.  The bigger “Big” is, the dirtier it is. The first major step is to separate the signal from the noise. That by itself can be a challenge. It is like searching for a needle in a haystack. Technology has made it easy to access almost unlimited data and in near real-time streaming. The biggest challenge for many companies is how to quickly extract value from their data.  The competitive edge goes to the ones that figure that out.

Q: In your experience what happens when there is no process?

The lack of a good process can result in what I would describe as “fast and large garbage-in garbage-out”. If there is a warning label I would attach to a big data package delivery to a customer it would be “Handle with Care”.

Q: Tell us more about how the symposium is structured?

The symposium is structured to focus on the process rather than the particular technology or analytical method adopted to solve a problem. The panel will consist of four two-person academic/practitioner teams—each from a different business domain (finance, marketing, supply chain, sustainability, and entrepreneurship). Each team will present a big data study example from their business domain highlighting the business process and analytical techniques.

Q: Without giving too much away, what are 1 or 2 things that a viewer will learn or takeaway from the symposium?

What makes this symposium different is its focus on the process. The combined academic/practitioner panel and use case examples from various business domains will provide many perspectives for a wide audience with different interests. I believe many will walk away with a better awareness and appreciation of the challenges and also vast opportunities that big data and business analytics provide — but only when well executed!

Other Big Data Week events are taking place at BLUE 1647 (http://blue1647.com) a Pilsen-based technology and innovation center.

Big Data Week in Chicago is a partnership between Cook County Government and BLUE 1647, a Pilsen-based entrepreneurship and technology innovation center focused on education (through classes and workshops), workforce development (through apprentices and internships), and economic development in technology and 21st century skills.

For more information about Big Data Week 2014 events, visit: https://bigdataweek.com, https://bigdataweek.com/chicago or follow Big Data Week on Twitter at @CHGbigdataweek,  @bigdataweek.  Big Data Week uses hash tags #bdw14, and #bdw14chi.

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