CEO Brett was conducting a quarterly review of oper-ations with his top-management team. One of the sub-jects he introduced, as well as informing the participantsin advance of the meeting, was what the company wasdoing with its powerful new analytics. Brett explainedthat he was already aware of how advanced analytics,or Big Data, was helping make good decisions in mar-keting and selling many of its consumer products. Hecontinued: “At the moment, I would like to review whatwe are doing with analytics to help us do a better job ofmanaging operations and human resources. We are pay-ing large sums of money to collect and analyze data, butwhat’s the payoff?”Kevin, the manufacturing vice president, said thatsome new machine analytics were providing precisedata about when to schedule maintenance on machines,including the optimal time to lubricate machines withhundreds of parts. Brett replied, “Not very impressive.You and your staff were doing a good job maintain-ing complex machinery before we hired the analyticsconsultants.”Melissa, the vice president of information technol-ogy, explained that recent advances in analyzing vastamounts of data have provided her and her staff with aton of facts about employee use of computers, the Inter-net, and mobile devices provided by the company. Me-lissa said, “We can now tell you which websites our em-ployees visit, when they visit the sites, how much timethey spend sending and receiving e-mails, and whichemployees receive the most e-mails. We even knowwhich employees use our IT equipment after hours andon vacation.” Brett responded, “And in what way arethese data telling us anything useful for operating thecompany more efficiently?”Sandra, the HR vice president, explained that theHR department was getting a lot of information for HRanalytics. She said, “We have a precise picture of whichemployees are using which benefits, and which employ-ees are most likely thinking about retiring or quitting.We have even developed a data set of which employeesare the most likely to participate in company training,or participate in MOOC [massive open online course],and who is most likely to have to take care of an elderlyparent.” Brett responded, “Sandra, you have put us inthe realm of Big Brother. But why should our companycare? Why do we really need information about whichemployees are most likely to participate in training?When they ask us for training, and we ask them to par-ticipate in training, then we will have the informationwe need.”After shaking his head for a few seconds, Brett said,“Maybe I’m a little dense. But will somebody give mea clear explanation of how our investment in Big Datais doing anything but making our consultants happy?” Case Questions 1. What advice can you offer Kevin, Melissa, and San-dra to better impress Brett about the usefulness ofanalytics and Big Data at the company? 2. What advice can you offer Brett to help him be morerealistic about the use of Big Data at the company? 3. What, if any, ethical issues are involved in this case? (
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