In October, I had the opportunity to travel back to Russia for the 9th annual EMC Forum, hosted at the World Trade Center in Moscow. With more than 1,500 attendees, including customers, partners and press, it was clear that the people of Russia are excited by the transformation happening in IT and are eager to learn more and capitalize on the growing megatrend that is big data.One of the topics that I covered in my keynote was the benefits of big data. It’s a source of business innovation and revenue growth and these mimic the challenges that every organization deals with and are not going away anytime soon. Big data can help gain new insights that grow the business and improve operational efficiency. In fact, the number one use of big data is to increase customer intimacy by gathering more data about customers to improve marketing efficiency, product designs and satisfy customer needs.Given the technical expertise and sophistication of IT users in Russia, the adoption of big data ideas have disseminated quite quickly compared to years past when we would introduce new concepts region by region, hoping for acceptance. The question is not whether big data will be a big deal but rather, how ready are IT companies to bring these ideas to market?Russia is a hotbed of IT IP and they are ready and excited about jumping on the big data opportunity.Two of the biggest sectors in Russia in which big data can make an extraordinary impact are in financial services and oil and gas. Banks are often looking for solutions to engage customers in new ways, generate business demand and increase revenue streams. With high-volume, varied customer data, big data infrastructure and analytics are needed to improve growth strategy and gain competitive advantage. In oil and gas, anticipating trends and predicting findings is critical to improving operational efficiency. Not to mention that seismic data is tailor made for big data analysis.To have the chance to visit Russia twice in just a few short months was wonderful as I was able to meet with our talented team who are focused on taking EMC to the next level. EMC was recently listed as the #4 IT employer in Russia by Aon Hewitt and we are committed to growing our talented workforce there. Our customers and partners who go to market with us are very excited about the depth and breadth of our product line, the strategic positioning that we’ve carved out for ourselves, and the expansion on their ability to serve their customers’ broad IT requirements.