Interview with Jill Dychè on Data Management in the Era of Big Data3 min read

jill dyche




Jill Dyche, Vice President of SAS Best Practices, was keynote speaker at SAS Forum Norway in September, and was interviewed by Lars Rinnan 


Jill, you delivered a strong keynote, and the audience was really attentive.
You talked about big data and how to get the c-suite to listen. It sounds almost impossible. How do you get them to listen?

jill dyche figur2You need to meet executives where they are. In other words: figure out what’s important to them now, and then map big data as the answer.

Here’s an example: A large cable company sees an uptick in customer complaints in its call center. They have to add expensive headcount to the support staff. But they decide to incent customers to use social media interactions to ask for support or lodge complaints.  By adding social media transactions to customer profiles, the cable company can not only monitor valuable customers who may be at-risk, it can also “score” its brand reputation based on text analytics of social media interactions. They understand that over half of customer feedback comments are actually installation questions and not complaints. They develop customer support videos and post them on YouTube. Both questions and complaints are reduced, and support staff can be redeployed to cross-selling functions.


Data governance is essential, but how do you get the CXO interested?

jill dyche figur2Find the problem the CXO needs to solve, and explain how data enables the solution. Many senior executives don’t make the link between a business need and data. If you “deconstruct” the business problem into the data necessary to solve it, you can see the lights go on with executives.



How would you start a data governance process at a large company who has no clue of data governance?

Wjill dyche figur2e recommend starting with what I call a “small, controlled project.” Take a business problem, scope it down to a level where data can enable it quickly, and then implement a well-bounded process around data rules and policies necessary to address it.



How is data governance related to big data?

jill dyche figur2Big data is like any other data: It requires policy making and oversight. In that respect big data should be beholden to larger rules. For instance, data from sensors or devices that may be streaming into your company should be handled in a different way. Is it sensitive? Is it defined? Is it targeted to be consumed by a department? An individual? A machine? All of these factors, and others, should inform the policies around that data. And that’s data governance.


In your experience, are businesses giving data governance enough attention in terms of resources, technology and funding?

jill dyche figur2Only after they feel enough pain. Very few companies new to data governance actually say, “Hey! Let’s make sure we factor data governance into this new initiative.” Most have to experience the pain of not having the right data for the right business purpose. Go back to the days of Customer Relationship Management and remember how everyone thought they could just plug in a new tool? The validity of the data is directly proportional to the value of the resulting application. Data can no longer be considered an afterthought.


Thanks you for sharing these valuable insights with the readers of biblogg, Jill!



About Jill Dyche

Jill Dychè is an acknowledged speaker, author, and blogger on the topic of aligning IT with business solutions. As the Vice President of SAS Best Practices, she speaks, writes, and blogs about the business value of analytics and information. Prior to being acquired by SAS subsidiary DataFlux in 2011, Jill was a partner and co-founder of Baseline Consulting, where she combined the roles of best-practice expert, industry gadfly, key client advisor, and all-around thought leader. At both firms, she has led client strategies and market analysis in the areas of data governance, business intelligence, master data management, CRM, and big data. Jill has counseled executive teams and boards of directors on the strategic importance of their information investments. Executives from companies including Charles Schwab, Verizon, and Microsoft have relied Jill’s counsel for data strategy planning and execution. Jill’s first book, e-Data (Addison Wesley), has been published in eight languages. Her book, The CRM Handbook (Addison Wesley), is the bestseller on the topic. Jill has contributed to a range of other books and her work has been featured in major publications such as Computerworld, CIO Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune and Jill’s latest book, Customer Data Integration: Reaching a Single Version of the Truth (John Wiley and Sons), was co-authored with Evan Levy, and shows the business breakthroughs achieved with integrated customer data. The book features case studies from Royal Bank of Canada, Intuit, AARP, ING Insurance, Overstock. com and Amgen, among others. Jill is a featured speaker at industry conferences, university programs, and vendor events. She judges several best practices awards, is a member of the Society of Information Management, and is on the faculty of The Data Warehousing Institute. She is also a blogger for Harvard Business Review ( and writes the popular In the Biz blog at