HBR on Big Data and Data-Driven Leadership v. HIPPOs

Matthew Josefowicz

If you’re thinking about how Big Data and Analytics will impact your organization, the single biggest issue is whether your company’s leadership will embrace data-driven decision-making to drive change.

As we put it in our recent Big Data and Analytics Report:

Follow business need. While technologists and data specialists can get excited about the potential value of integrating new data sources and analytics capabilities, analytics initiatives that are not requested by the business will fail because business will not take advantage of them. This was the ignominious end of many data warehousing projects in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, and the scars are still fresh for many companies. The first step for insurance data and analytics specialists (beyond R&D initiatives like pilot programs or proof of concept experiments) must be to encourage business executives to think about the potential value of the outcome, and gauge the willingness of senior leaders to drive change.

Today I came across a great blog post at Harvard Business Review by Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson from MIT on the necessary changes to management culture that are required to thrive in a Big Data world.

It contrasts data-driven leadership with traditional models of following the HIPPO (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion). I highly recommend this post, especially the discussion that starts on the bottom of page 3 and continues through the end. http://hbr.org/2012/10/big-data-the-management-revolution/ar/1

If you’re unfamiliar with Brynjolfsson and McAfee’s work, I also recommend their recent book, Race Against the Machine.