Making Sense of Big Data

UPS maintains that data can be “a bottleneck” in the larger analytical scheme of things

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The amount of data in our world has been exploding, and analyzing large data sets—so-called big data—will become a key basis of competition, underpinning new waves of productivity growth, innovation, and consumer surplus, according to research by The McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) and McKinsey’s Business Technology Office.

UPS maintains that data can be “a bottleneck” in the larger analytical scheme of things, however

According to Jack Levis, the analytics and data expert at UPS, capturing Big Data should not be an end in itself.

“A measured approach to how this information is going to be used is crucial,” he said. “Each vertical in the global supply chain will need to configure the information differently.”

Levis gave a presentation earlier this week in Silicon Valley at the annual ConnectedWorld conference, where he explained how UPS optimizes data with descriptive, predictive and prescriptive analytics.

“We are not the only big company seeking to leverage big data for our customers,” he said in an interview with SCMR. Thanks to the Obama administration, a new level of transparency has been introduced.”

Levis was referring to the Open Data Executive Order, mandating that “going forward, newly generated government data shall be made freely available in open, machine-readable formats, while appropriately safeguarding privacy, confidentiality, and security.”

This requirement will help the Federal government achieve the goal of making troves of previously inaccessible or unmanageable data easily available to entrepreneurs, innovators, researchers, and others who can use those data to generate new products and services, build businesses, and create jobs.

But Levis cautioned that leaders in every sector will have to grapple with the implications of big data, not just a few data-oriented managers.

MGI agrees: “The increasing volume and detail of information captured by enterprises, the rise of multimedia, social media, and the Internet of Things will fuel exponential growth in data for the foreseeable future.”


About the Author

Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at [email protected]

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