Temple conference explores business value of ‘big data’

“Big data” is the new black.

The business school at Temple University is hosting its first ever big data conference Thursday.

Attendance is capped at 125. It’s been sold out for over a week.

“What we’re trying to focus on are success stories,” says conference organizer and Temple business professor David Schuff. “So instead of just talking in the abstract about what big data can do, we’re having people exchange stories about what it has actually done.”

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Big data refers to really large sets of information that organizations are finding new ways to analyze.

Schuff says it’s the outcropping of two trends: data becoming cheaper to store and easier to collect.

But for businesses that’s only half the battle.

“They’re sitting on this giant wealth of information that they don’t necessarily know what to do with,” says Schuff. “They’ve got it, it’s cheap to keep around. But the big question is, how do they leverage it to create value for their organizations?”

That’s the question at the heart of Thursday’s conference.

Here’s a hypothetical example: a major retailer combining sales and weather data to find hidden patterns that help the bottom line.

“We’ve only started to really understand what we can do with this,” Schuff says.

Representatives of some of the country’s biggest brands will be in attendance, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Merck & Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp.

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