Ken Rudin transformed Facebook into a data-driven company, utilizing big data to drive informed product development and connect with more users. It's easy to think about big data in terms of the technology used to analyze data. As Ken explains, there's much more to using data effectively than the tools you use to collect it.

Big Data 101: The Holistic View

When I first joined Facebook, the company was not effectively leveraging data to make informed product decisions. In other words, we had access to the data we needed. But, we didn’t know what to do with it. For example, before Facebook went public, we didn’t have a clear view of how many users we had. Depending on you asked, the variance would be between 5 and 10 percent. At Facebook, this represents millions of users. As a result, my charter as the head of the analytics team has been to create a big data framework that makes Facebook more agile and ultimately more data-driven.

Through the years, I have created a holistic view of big data that illustrates the factors that make an impact on how organizations use data most effectively.

  1. Technology.

    • This is the foundation that enables data to make a difference at your organization. For example, having access to the best tools and innovative solutions will enable your team to gain the best data-driven insights. However, it’s easy to think about big data purely from a technology-based perspective. Ultimately, the tools you use will only get you so far in leveraging big data to its fullest potential.
  2. Analysis.

    • You need to have the right people on your team to ask important questions about the data you are collecting. In other words, I would rather have great people using poor technology than great systems and a team of people who don’t know how to use data. In the end, big data is only as effective and impactful as the people you have to analyze it.
  3. Culture.

    • It’s easy to think that using big data starts with your technology and ends once you have solid analysis. However, if your company doesn’t have a data culture, then the insights gained from your team will never make a meaningful impact. Simply put, your team needs to incorporate big data into every decision. Furthermore, your organization needs to embrace data as a founding principle for conducting day-to-day business.
  4. Organization Structure.

    • While large companies will have a large analytics team that owns data projects, your entire company needs to leverage big data. Said differently, insights from data should not be siloed in the analytics team. Your broader organization should make data easily accessible to every department. Most importantly, the analytics team needs to be integrated into every decision-making function.


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About the Speaker
Ken Rudin
ServiceNow Sr. Director Product Success
Ken Rudin is the Head of User Growth and Analytics at Google. Before joining Google, Ken led the analytics team at Facebook, where he focused on leveraging Facebook’s massive analytics platform to generate high-impact insights that optimize both the Facebook user experience and Facebook’s overall business. Prior to Facebook, Ken was the VP of Analytics and Platform Technologies at Zynga.

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