Jim Kaskade Interview at Strata

Video (4:55) Raj Dalal from Big Insights interviews Jim Kaskade at Strata Conference.


Raj: Hi. This is Raj Dalal from Big Insights. I'm very privileged to be with Jim Kaskade CEO of InfoChimps here at Strata World and Hadoop World. Welcome Jim.

Jim: Thank you Raj. And it's a pleasure. Heard a lot about Big Insights and I'm excited to have a conversation.

Raj: Thank you so much. Well, first of all congratulations on your presentation. It was quite awe inspiring.

Jim: Thank you.

Raj: Just a couple of things I'd like to ask you today. First of all, your company, yourself. Your innovative young company. Then you've sold out to an established large player like CSC. Can you just take me through the logic that you went through to do that?

Jim: Sure. I think that you would naturally think a decision like that is an emotional one. That is the case. You know, we have a lot of people involved in the company. Not just myself. But a board of directors and a suite of founders, who by the way are mostly millenials in the same DNA of technologies invented in Silicon Valley and the web scale companies. I think it gets down to, obviously, fit. But it also gets down to the timing. So we were raising a very large amount of financing. And CSC basically pre empted that.

Raj: Right.

Jim: The fit between InfoChimps and CSC is fabulous so it made the choice incredibly easy from that perspective. And shareholders and founders are just ecstatic.

Raj: Yeah. I imagine it will give you unbelievable reach into the Fortune 500 companies around the world.

Jim: So that's one reason why they were attracted to us. Because we do have an enterprise play. And that being said, they're clearly a channel. I mean Global 2000. Extremely strong reputation. And clearly domain expertise and industry verticals as well as professional services and being able to deliver complex solutions in the IT world.

Raj: Yeah. Sure. Seems to make a lot of sense. So all the best with that. Secondly, you made an interesting observation over [inaudible 00:02:02] this morning over you've seen up to 50 percent of big data projects fail.

Jim: Yeah.

Raj: Already. Over 50 percent. Be interested in your thoughts on why you think that's the case.

Jim: Yes. We actually, it's not an anecdotal number. We surveyed over 300 IT groups. And not the CIO's, the people that work for them. So, you know, the response came back. And there's basically three main reasons that won't surprise you. Number one. The project weren't well scoped because each case wasn't well defined. Probably, you know, you can generalize that we're really talking about people kicking the tires and basically trying to build sandboxes. So without focus, very little chance of success.

The second is, the technology is very complex. This is a suite of technologies that are built by web scale companies in the valley. And not a lot people understand it. You have so much to choose from. There’s so much noise. 150 sequels. "What do you choose for your big data project?" is a complexity that can definitely contribute to the failure of the project and then the last and probably the most important is the political friction within the organization.

Raj: Not a lot of people talk about that and think through that. You've got some thoughts there.

Jim: Yeah. I think, you know, you think about the people aspect of any business. You know, infrastructure is, it's almost a religion, right? There are people who are very invested in what they've created. And there are definitely people who have control over certain data sources. You need champions and you need people who can basically remove the barriers and the obstacles.

If you're not insightful about understanding who you're dealing with, then you're going to run into a lot of road blocks. And when we look at big data opportunities we actually rank the use cases not just by revenue impact, for example, but we do look at political friction and kind of pick the ones that we know we can get to quick time to value.

Raj: Right. And if it was one take away you'd like to give to CIO's and CMO's who've been looking at these projects, you know, what would be your . . .

Jim: Don't wait.

Raj: Don't.

Jim: I mean, I'm serious. I mean, I think if you wait you're going to fulfill your two year life cycle. I mean it's literally if you don't do it, your competition will.

Raj: Yeah.

Jim: And so fail fast. No one's going to hit 100 percent hit rate on success. So what you have to think about is how you're going to prove your thesis for the other constituents around the board room. You know, the other executives who are your customers. Think about which use case you're to pick. Show success and add to that. Pick one use case. Make it successful. Don't be afraid of the technology. Don't be afraid of failure.

Raj: Very wise words. Thanks so much, Jim.

Jim: Thank you, Raj.

Raj: Thank you for your time.

Jim: Sure.

Raj: Bye.