Headquartered in Burlingame, CA, Blazent Inc. is a provider of big data services that help enterprise IT departments and managed service providers collect and analyze masses of decision-making information from their management and operational systems in near real time. In this executive Q&A, Blazent CTO and chief product officer Michael Ludwig shares his front-line perspective on implementing and operating an effective big data platform.\nWhat are the keys to success in big data? \nFirst, you have to understand what you\u2019re trying to accomplish. People disappointed by a big data project usually weren\u2019t clear going in on the end results they hoped to achieve. Second, you have to think carefully about your data sources. Some of the data our system uses, for example, is generated automatically by IT systems but some of it is entered manually by end users, and could be inaccurate. You need a way to weight sources like that differently based on their reliability. Third, information is changing continually, so you need to account for the fact that a source saying one thing today may be trumped by another source saying something different tomorrow.\nHow are disruptive technologies generally and big data specifically changing the CTO\u2019s role in today\u2019s enterprise?\nThere\u2019s an immense amount of breakthroughs occurring in many different areas of IT today, so you have to spend a lot of time researching emerging technologies and how they could impact you. It helps to have a community of smart people outside your organization who you can trade ideas and questions with. I have a network of friends and experts across the industry who I speak with pretty frequently.\nHow have the demands of big data impacted your talent strategy and leadership style? \nIt\u2019s no secret that big data experts are in short supply right now, so if you have any on staff you need to take good care of them. We have some world-class people here and we make sure our environment and culture keep them productive and free from distraction. We\u2019ve also invested in Web conferencing and other systems that help them work whenever and wherever they want, because these kinds of people don\u2019t necessarily keep 9-to-5 hours. As for leadership style, you have to allow people to be at their best while still meeting business objectives. There have been instances when we\u2019ve had to ship an algorithm that some people thought wasn\u2019t perfect yet, for instance, because time to market is so critical in this industry.\nYour title is CTO but you\u2019re also part of a four-person \u201cOffice of the CTO.\u201d How did that structure come about, and how does it work? \nIt was kind of an organic process, actually. We were completely re-doing our backend infrastructure and four of us turned out to have complementary skills. One of us is really strong in data modeling, another has deep knowledge of the latest big data technologies, a third has a close eye on what\u2019s happening in the startup world, and I\u2019m good at analyzing how all of that affects our solution. From the very beginning, it\u2019s been a lot like being in a band. We each understood that we were playing different instruments but that they all needed to fit together. I lead the group, but we seldom have significant disagreements.