Making a Career in Big Data [video]

"You've gotta have something that says: 'I have knowledge or insights or some way of doing something differently than I would have done before.'"

When asked about how to be successful in the field of data, Joe Megibow says: There's an element of time. Being in the space for a long time makes a big difference. It starts with some simple premises – It's not about data, analytics, reporting – it's about taking action and delivering results. It's important to look at ways to add value. Producing actionable results is the point. He illustrates his point by explaining that a situation in which 20% of customers failed at a certain point in the transaction is an outage, and he had to fight with upper management to make them understand that it was as serious as the servers not responding, because it was losing one in five customers. In short, find something that's horribly broken, and use it to ratchet your way up the ladder.

The panel head asks Bob Page if there was an event where he felt he'd found his calling. Mr. Page answers by saying that when he left school, he wasn't sure what he wanted to do, so he began by being a network manager for a university. He discovered that monitoring data traffic and monitoring marketing data was very similar from an engineering point of view. He felt that data is EVERYTHING. When he looks to hire, he says people should say 'data is everything.' He will choose someone who loves data over someone with experience.

John Elder originally started as a 'half-academic.' He wanted to be useful and share knowledge. Academia, according to Elder, is not a way to share information, because few people read journal articles. Providing useful software, on the other hand, helps you reach out to the world. He feels that data analysis is a way of looking into the future, like looking into a crystal ball. The cool thing is that you can help people – you can solve problems and make them big money!

Closing Thoughts

Whether you're a direct marketer, a web analyst, a social media metrics expert or a media buyer, you are really in the Big Data business. What started as a purely academic endeavor, became an IT task and morphed into a business intelligence niche, has blossomed into a role that is central to the success of business from now on.

Joe Megibow - VP and General Manager, Expedia.com

Joe MegibowJoe Megibow is currently the VP and General Manager of Expedia, the world's leading online travel provider. In his role, Joe manages all aspects of Expedia's US operations. Prior to this role, Joe was the VP, Mobile and E-Commerce Optimization at Expedia, with global responsibility for Expedia's mobile initiatives, including Mobiata, the leading provider of mobile travel apps. Joe also oversaw e-commerce optimization activities including leading-edge site conversion optimization techniques, marketing, site, and customer analytics, and site experimentation. Finally, he had product management responsibility for core eCommerce flows, including product search and checkout.

Bob Page - VP Analytics, eBay

Bob PageAs eBay's vice president of Data & Analytics Platform, Bob Page brings more than 15 years of passion for analysis to the world's largest online marketplace. Bob leads eBay's data and analytics infrastructure, and is responsible for the strategy and policies that power data-driven decisions. From data warehouse and business intelligence solutions to advanced analytics and custom insights, Bob delivers solutions for strategic use of data. Bob joined eBay from Yahoo!, where he led analytics teams across a broad range of responsibilities. He has been active in analytics since 1996, when he was co-founder, CTO and VP of Product Development for Accrue Software, a provider of large-scale web analytics. He is a frequent speaker at industry events, and serves on the eMetrics advisory council.

John Elder - CEO & Founder, Elder Research, Inc.

John ElderCEO & Founder, Elder Research, Inc., Dr. John Elder heads a data mining consulting team with offices in Charlottesville, Virginia and Washington DC. Founded in 1995, Elder Research, Inc. focuses on investment, commercial and security applications of advanced analytics, including text mining, forecasting, stock selection, image recognition, process optimization, cross-selling, biometrics, drug efficacy, credit scoring, market timing, and fraud detection.

John obtained a BS and MEE in Electrical Engineering from Rice University, and a PhD in Systems Engineering from the University of Virginia, where he's an adjunct professor teaching Optimization or Data Mining. Prior to 15 years at ERI, he spent 5 years in aerospace defense consulting, 4 heading research at an investment management firm, and 2 in Rice University's Computational & Applied Mathematics department. Dr. Elder has authored innovative data mining tools, is a frequent keynote speaker, and was co-chair of the 2009 Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining conference, in Paris.

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