Oracle CEO Talks Big Data At Baylor Business Forum

Mar 20, 2014

Oracle CEO Mark Hurd was the keynote speaker for the Hankamer School of Business’s forum on Big Data. Hurd talked about how the ability to collect huge amounts of data has changed the way companies do business. And, as Ryland Barton reports, Hurd said we should just get used to companies prying for personal information.

Oracle CEO Mark Hurd spoke to a packed crowd of mostly business school students last night. His talk focused on how innovations have allowed companies to Hoover more and more data—but it’s all mostly useless. Hurd used the example of oil companies, who are now collecting data from tens of thousands of sensors on deep water oil rigs.

"And almost all that data is worthless," Hurd said. "It comes to a network operations center to say drill bit fine. But now it’s economic enough that if you were to find that drill bit at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico before it broke and save 20 billion dollars and save the Gulf? Is it worth collecting and analyzing the data?"

And in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the gulf, Hurd says it’s worth it for oil companies to collect oceans of data. But the challenge has become developing systems that can digest all the data and produce useful results.

But Hurd points out that that really good data collection can hurt business too. Especially since consumers have powerful data collecting tools in their pockets—smart phones.

"This is a problem because now lunatics have a chance to run my life," Hurd said. "Don’t laugh about this. This is a big deal. If you want to run a business, let’s pretend you’re Oracle. Pretend you’ve got my job. We’ve got how many customers doing business with us? 400,000 people will do business with us this year. 400,000 companies. Let’s use my rule—20,000, 5 per cent. Let’s pretend we’re in the consumer business. You want 20,000 people tweeting? You want 20,000 people on Facebook, you want 20,000 YouTube videos? I think not."

Privacy came up a few times in the conversation. I asked if data privacy campaigns will limit the kind of data big data ultimately collects. He doesn’t think so.

"We as companies are going to get everything we can," Hurd said. "Companies are designed to try to improve revenue, to try to improve profits. And anything they can get as a competitive advantage within a certain sets of rules, they’re gonna go get. You should expect that. You should expect to ask 'how’d they get that data?' They’re looking for it every minute."