What big data means to the Fortune 500

contract Armin Harris. Kyle Bean for Fortune
Kyle Bean for Fortune

Phil McAveety

Phil McAveety Chief Brand Officer / Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide

Chief  brand officer
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide
Fortune 500 rank: 424
Ticker: (HOT)

Our oldest hotel, the 600-year-old Goldener Hirsch in Salzburg, has a tunnel from the general manager’s office overlooking the front desk so he can see and hear new arrivals and greet each guest like an old friend. Big data is a 21st-century version of this tunnel. Really knowing our guests means we can send people offers that matter to them, customize their visits, do more that they actually want, and avoid doing things they don’t, which makes us better operators while providing our guests superior experiences. --As told to Anne VanderMey 

Rory Read

Rory Read Chief Executive Officer / Advanced Micro Devices

Chief executive officer
Advanced Micro Devices
Fortune 500 rank: 474
Ticker: (AMD)

For me, big data means the end of this historical separation between what was in the local data center and what was on our personal PCs. The cloud is going to become the center of all information, video, content -- and we’re going to be able to access it all from our devices. It’s going to change the world. --As told to Stephanie N. Mehta 

Jamie Miller

Jamie Miller Chief Information Officer / General Electric

Chief information officer
General Electric
Fortune 500 rank: 9
Ticker: (GE)

Big data is transforming how we deliver service for our customers, while simplifying the way we run our company. We firmly believe that the apps and services that can be built off of big data from machines will unlock new levels of productivity and value for our customers. It also helps us analyze and simplify the things that drive employees crazy, removing complex systems and arming them with the technology and insights they want and need to do their jobs. --As told to Michal Lev-Ram

Ellen Richey

Ellen Richey Chief Enterprise Risk Officer / Visa

Chief enterprise risk officer
Fortune 500 rank: 238
Ticker: (V)

Data use holds the promise of making new connections between dispersed bits of information creating value, both economic and social. In the context of risk management, data analytics help us identify criminal patterns and create next-generation intelligence that saves our financial institutions and retailers millions in fraud losses, while providing consumers with peace of mind. --As told to Anne VanderMey 

Gregory Hayes

Gregory Hayes chief financial officer / United Technologies

Chief financial officer
United Technologies
Fortune 500 rank: 45
Ticker: (UTX)

This is a data-driven company. Pratt & Whitney uses information from sensors on its jet engines to forecast when maintenance can be performed most effectively and efficiently. UTC Aerospace Systems uses Health and Usage Management Systems to boost aircraft readiness, enhance flight safety, and lower maintenance costs. Advanced data analysis will grow as we find more ways that it can help us improve performance while lowering costs for our company and our customers. --As told to Shawn Tully

This story is from the June 16, 2014 issue of  Fortune.

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