A global company recently decided to do what many companies are doing: figure out how to turn big data into big profits. It put together a preliminary budget and a request for proposal that in effect asked vendors to take the data the company had and identify opportunities.

Vendors were thrilled with what was essentially a free pass to collect and analyze everything (with due regard for customer privacy concerns, of course). Two months later, the bids were coming in 400 percent over budget. The obvious solution was to narrow the scope, but no one was sure what to cut and what to keep because the chief marketing officer (CMO) hadn’t specifically defined the most important data requirements, and the CIO hadn’t reviewed the request for proposal or intervened to prevent the inevitable above-budget bids. Months of wasted time and spending later, the company is no closer to a big data plan.

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