Business Analytics Adoption Part 4: The Cloud and Big Data
We have come a long way on our journey covered in my previous blogs posts, looking at the early steps on the journey to business analytics adoption where companies take their first tentative steps and the role the data warehouse plays in this. My previous blog post looked at Sweating our existing Assets, Financial Performance Planning and Predictive Analysis.
Below I look at the growing effect of internet technologies and some of the challenges facing our customers as they continue on their journey.
From the advent of the world wide web the industry has been moving towards a world of data in the cloud. Hardware and networking infrastructures have developed to allow user to store data in data centres on the other side of the planet and access that data instantly through the internet. Suddenly the need to maintain your own “on premise” servers has become less appealing, and the lure of servers in the cloud, maintained by professional engineers, secured in massive data centres behind high security has become a reality. We have seen applications like email, HR systems and CRM systems adopting cloud technologies. These systems can be considered the low hanging fruit and normally require smaller amounts of data being moved from line of business systems to the cloud. Cloud based ERP systems are now becoming more popular and as these systems find themselves in the cloud it starts to make co-locating our reporting systems in the cloud more realistic. However, there are a number of things that need to be considered before moving a data warehouse and enterprise reporting system into the cloud.
Firstly, where is the data? If you still have you line of business systems on premise, then you have to consider how you will transfer data over the web to the data warehouse. Getting the data to the DWH in the first place maybe an initial challenge, as transferring terabytes of data across even a high speed internet connection may take some time. Then you need to consider how the data is to be updated and how you can identify and transmit only changes made to the on premise data. Of course you then have to consider whether the internet connection is man enough to handle the traffic from the cloud to the user base. Is the internet pipe wide enough?
Then you have fail over to consider. What if the internet connection goes down? It’s not just your email that stops but now it’s your enterprise reporting solutions or even your main ERP systems. An internet outage can bring your business to a grinding halt. Of course there are many technologies that can help minimise the risk.
There are many issues to understand and address before taking the plunge. Big vendors will tell you that its easy, but trust me it’s not as easy as they make out. There’s a lot to consider, not least the cost of software subscriptions and data migration. At Triangle we have been helping our customers on this journey by doing the hard work in uncovering the real costs or indeed savings in moving to the cloud.
Unleash the power of Big Data
There are a myriad of data sources available on the internet now which can be used to supplement or enhance your existing business data. Social media feeds from Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin all bring big insight to your business. Today’s businesses can learn so much from what is being said on social media, be it feedback on the latest drugs benefitting pharmaceutical businesses by understanding how a new drug is being received by the public, or talent scouts identifying new and emerging musical artists that are looking for recording contracts.
IBM has recently purchased the digital side of the Weather Channel allowing IBM to provide weather data to businesses. As we know, information on the weather can influence our spending on products like clothes and ice creams. Those businesses that have the right stock available when the customer wants it will benefit. No point in trying to sell woolly gloves when we are experiencing a heat wave.
Outside of Social Media we are seeing the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT). More and more devices are collecting information and storing them in huge databases in the internet. Devices like sensors recording river flows and levels; sensors on shoes to measure your running efficiency or sensors on large machines that monitor running temperatures. All this data is being collected and stored, but it’s just data until we do something with it. This data contains valuable information but we need to use the tools we have at our disposal to analyse and present this information in a clear and meaningful way.
The use of cloud technologies is in essence a technology shift, moving away from “On Premise” servers to cloud based servers. It can be embraced as simply as signing up for a hosting package where the hardware is located in a data centre but you maintain the software, to fully managed servers and software provided as a service (SaaS).
We are seeing SaaS solutions being provided for Email, ERP, HR systems and alike, however SaaS solutions for Data Warehouse and Enterprise Reporting applications is still a way off. This is mainly due to the complexities of server configurations required to provide a high level of reporting service. In the mean time we see the market leaning towards Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Hybrid Cloud being the prominent technologies in and around enterprise reporting.
The Future and Business Analytics
So where is it all going? As a society we are collecting huge amounts of data on a daily basis, we are sharing our lives with our friends digitally through social media and we are buying devices that are collecting data on everything we do as well as the buildings we live and work in and the environment we all share. The key is how can we gain insight from this data. This is why I’m excited to be in the Data analytics industry as a time when businesses are looking to benefit from analysing the data, modelling the effects on their businesses, and predicting what will happen when we play out various scenarios.
Triangle ethos is about helping our customers on their journey and demystifying the technologies and the costs associated with them. As a business we are always spending time researching what the market has to offer and how we can use new technologies to enhance the services we provide. With Triangle it’s not about making a quick buck at the expenses of our customers, it’s about being around for the long term and being there for the journey wherever it may lead us. In understanding the technologies and identifying those we want to embrace as a business I feel we are able to offer guidance and advice to smooth the journey to adoption of business analytics.
If you would like to share your fear and concerns about the world of analytics, then give us a call and we would love to help you get the most out of your data.
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