It’s been fun watching the computing world mature, from the days when mainframe computers occupied an entire operations-intensive room to the power of applications on our mobile phones. Have we finally awoken to the reality that mobile communications has caught-up with the Dick Tracy comic character and his 2-way wrist watch phone? Technology has been (as predicted!) evolving so quickly, that even professional prognosticators are merely guessing where we will be in another 10-20 years; Science Fiction has rapidly become Science Fact.
Technology & Lifestyle Morphing
Today, data intensity is enveloping our business and social worlds – from airwaves, to telephone circuits, computer cables, and mobile devices we are growing into data junkies relying on our next data fix to help us make the smallest of decisions! Our lifestyle and habits are changing radically with our dependence on technology to support our daily existence. In this new digital-centric way of life businesses that provide services and products supported by digital highways and mountains of data must pay close attention to the operation and performance of their technology infrastructure. On the other hand, consumers need to develop reasonable expectations on the value and use of the data retrieved and used. For example, do we rely completely on sourced data or attempt to balance with our lifetime of experiences and insights contained in our sensory, short and long memories?
Information is King. That was true a thousand years ago, and it is true today. It was also true that gathering information, for the purpose of making informed decisions, was and will always be the most critical success factor in almost any undertaking. Leveraging the digital environment: What has changed immeasurably today over a thousand years is the ability to find and access data. If you can access the internet from your handheld, you can access more than a thousand years’ of human learning almost instantly.
But, what do you do with it? Furthermore, how do you handle structured versus unstructured information? Can you aggregate the information as you need it? Probably not, there’s too much there. What about a web application though? There things get more interesting, because you may be able to interface with the data you want, already organized in a useful manner in a database. In effective decision making the big challenge is making sure that the data is being aggregated into actionable information and subsequently used to generate new tacit knowledge accurate, complete, and appropriate.
The astonishing acceleration of data growth and the heterogeneous character of the data mean that organizations whose IT infrastructures transport, store, secure, and replicate large amounts of data, have little choice but to employ ever more sophisticated approaches, techniques, and tools for information management, security, search, storage and database management. Add mobile into the mix and data management presents a new level of complexity for ensuring total accuracy, high level of performance and successful rendering of data and information with the different technical environments. Effective data and database management empowers business and technology executives to use current information as the basic building block of high-quality decisions.
Enterprise Data Challenges
That said, let’s talk about your corporate database and remote access. Some of your data and information is customer facing, some of it is internal-eyes only. You probably have some information that you simply don’t want accessible from a web application without VPN protection. What happens then when you have an off-site conference, sales event, or activity? And what happens when you are missing either the VPN or the internet access?
You need to give your off-site workers access to critical data in order to facilitate their decision-making processes. The ability to get the right information to the right mobile devices and mobile workers has gone from a “nice to have” to “mission critical.” We are in a whole new work environment — much different than in our grandparents’ days when the work day was 9-5 and they left work to enjoy the remainder of the day with their family. Contrast that with today’s typical executives or workers who are expected to respond quickly to after-hours calls and emails on their hand-held devices and be in a position to instantly make decisions and collaborate with colleagues!
A Typical Data Story
At a recent event on a cruise ship, it was observed that the sales staff struggling to get sales desk set up because they did not have the information they needed at hand. Customer information was missing; inventory information was missing; and the ability to connect past sales with present sales (essential for a variety of reasons) was not there. Their helplessness to process transactions on a timely basis and without correct information cost them over 6 figures in sales for the event. This is not isolated to cruise ships; outdoor events in remote locations have the same issue, no cell tower, and no internet access. Even some higher-end hotel locations may not have disabled VPN connections through their own pipelines.
There are two potential solutions to data helplessness: first, you can create the custom database access application (to your remote data) for the remote (handheld) device; second, you can put critical, selected components of the data directly on the remote device. Both cases are probably meat for a couple of additional blog entries.
Your “feet on the street” need access to the right data, right now, for two reasons: first, it maximizes sales and improves customer service and loyalty; second, if you don’t do it, your competitor will! The simple truth is that data needs to be proactively managed and accessible 24/7 if we are to reap the significant benefits from leveraging and exploiting our valuable corporate data.
In conclusion we leave all with a topical Albert Einstein quote – “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. ”
Authored by Jeffrey Garbus, President of Soaring Eagle Consultants Inc. (http://www.soaringeagle.biz/) and,
Kevin M. O’Sullivan. President of The Knowledge Compass, Inc. (http://www.knowledgecompass.com )
Ever-increasing requirements and capabilities to process gigantic quantities of business and social media data are influencing notable changes in information technology and business environments. This phenomenon is being described by industry professionals as Big Data and it is influencing product development, market and consumer segmentation, and promotional activities. Big Data is undoubtedly both an opportunity and a threat as the amount of online data is significantly increasing and the tools to manage and manipulate data growing expeditiously within the business and social media segments. Recent market research states that data is doubling every 18 months!
Big Data Definition
What is Big Data? The term describes the tools, processes and procedures enabling an organization to effectively, efficiently, and with flexibility create, manipulate, and manage large data sets and storage facilities. This includes terabytes, petabytes, exabytes, and zettabytes collections of data. Big Data is data generated from customer transactions and obtained from external research and data base providers that is growing so large that it is awkward and problematic to use with conventional data management approaches and tools.
The Big Data approach has been a valuable and evolving customized tool set over recent years among large credit card, communications, retail, and financial companies. For example, businesses like Amazon, EBay, AT&T, Capital One, Google, and VISA successfully manage huge databases that they mine for competitive advantage.
Big Data in most organizations can be compared to an ‘iceberg’ – frozen and somewhat underwater! The frozen state represents traditional corporate format and use standards that make it difficult to flow data throughout the organization. Data is considered underwater when for reasons of privacy, competitiveness, and / or incompetence data is hidden, off-limits and not totally shared with the employee universe.
A Big Data strategy typically includes: identifaction, adoption, and implementation of a technical solution set and; policies on the format and use of the corporate data. Development of a Big Data strategy generally begins at the point where executives get involved with problems associated with the technologies and approaches used to drive and manage their large enterprise data sets.
Big Data and SMB Market
Big Data analytics is no longer just on the radar screen of the Fortune level companies. Increasingly, Big Data and cloud computing in tandem is becoming attractive to small and medium business (SMB) companies. For these companies this technical combo provides high-level competitive capabilities to leverage the la carte economics of elastic computing and adopt a cost-effective Big Data approach to grow existing business and / or discover new product and market opportunities. Because cloud computing removes an upfront investment requirement for purchase of a costly infrastructure, SMB companies no longer face a significant financial barrier for creation of a Big Data strategy and implementation of an appropriate technical solution.
Big Data and Litigation
Attorneys and their clients increasingly face the dilemma of how to efficaciously conduct searches for relevant documents in large heterogeneous digital data sets, for the purpose of responding to court-order requests. Recent litigation experiences show that companies are being required by law to store large masses of content and documents, Email messages and other forms of electronic communication that may be necessary if they face litigation.
The unprecedented size, scale, and complexity of digital stored data now subject to routine capture present organizations with potential exposures ensuing from the failure to submit requested documents in full and on time to the court to avoid sanctions.
Big Data Technologies
Big Data is having a direct impact on web, cloud, enterprise, mobile platforms as many technology vendors are developing solutions to enable optimum management of large sets of data. The noteworthy Big Data challenges and requirements support the industry belief that no single technology will provide a silver bullet solution. Instead an array of technologies that are each focused on meeting specific set of requirements are improving our ability to manage data at scale. Emerging Big Data technologies and the high rate of their acceptance and use are testing conventional business models and strategies.