As companies collect customer information, professor aims to quantify need for computer storage
Every day at 7:30 a.m. when a customer buys a caramel latte, her frequent shopper card allows Starbucks to track her purchases. Then, when the chain introduces a new latte, Starbucks sends her a coupon to encourage her to spend even more.
It’s a perfect strategy. But as companies collect more and more information about their customers, they suddenly realize they are grappling with a major issue.
“Just like high blood pressure, information growth is a silent killer,” said Paul Tallon, Ph.D., associate professor of information systems and operations management. “Companies are literally drowning in data. Storage is getting cheaper, but companies are collecting so much data on point-of-sales cards, from e-mail, and from things like MRI scans and X-rays, that costs are beginning to rise and eat into other areas of the information technology budget.”
Tallon’s interest in this underexplored issue led him to his position on a nationwide four-person research team conducting the How Much Information (HMI) project. The team is working to quantify the amount of information generated annually in U.S. corporations and propose solutions for how to store and manage all of it.
“Once we understand nationally how big the problem is, then we can look at individual companies to see what they have done, what they are doing right now, and what they hope to do in the future to manage this data growth phenomenon,” Tallon said.
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