Master Data is information that is critical to your business. This could include contracts, proprietary information, intellectual capital and a whole lot more besides. Because this often reposes in a variety of different places, you need a master data management / MDM policy to control it. That way, you can link it all together in a single, secure, backed up file.
This Sounds Like Big Data
Not necessarily: big data refers to extremely large data sets that are best stored and analysed on a cloud using big technology, in order to uncover trends, patterns and associations often relating to human behaviour. Of course, if you run a niche restaurant your critical master data might be limited to a few recipes and the books you do not care to show your accountant.
The distinction is largely a question of size: think of your master data as the subset of big data that you already have your mind around. According to John Case of IBM this is probably already in a structured format and available to share. He goes on to present a cogent case for using this as a peg point around which to systematise the rest. This is because the average organization already has master data recording customers’ and prospects’ behaviour.
Do I Still Need My Master Data?
Yes you do, because real people created it with the benefit of human insight. Retain it as a separate set. Then compare it with the results of big data processing for even richer insights. Two heads are better that one and that goes for data processing too.
Trends in CRM Big Data
Adding data via location-aware devices like smartphones and tablets is adding a new dimension to customer information. We now know where they were when they made the enquiry or punched in the information. Use this geo-location data to hone the way you interact with customers and service their accounts. Do not phone a customer who makes decisions at work when they are at home.
Does My Master Data Belong on a Cloud?
There are a number of ‘ifs’ to consider. How comfortable are you with your service provider. What would happen if someone hacked their server? There are many advantages to cloud technology. Denizon knows of solutions you can rely on, and makes sure its clients have contingency plans to protect them at all times.
Big data moved to centre stage from being just another fad, and is being punted as the latest cure-all for information woes. It may well be, although like all transitions there are pitfalls. Denizon decided to highlight the major ones in the hope of fostering better understanding of what is involved.
Accurate data and interpretation of it have become increasingly critical. Ideas Laboratory reports that 84% of managers regard understanding their clients and predicting market trends essential, with accelerating demand for data savvy people the inevitable result. However Inc 5000 thinks many of them may have little idea of where to start. We should apply the lessons learned from when we implemented CRM because the dynamics are similar.
Be More Results Oriented
Denizon believes the key is focusing on the results we expect from Big Data first. Only then is it appropriate to apply our minds to the technology. By working the other way round we may end up with less than optimum solutions. We should understand the differences between options before committing to a choice, because it is expensive to switch software platforms in midstream. data lakes, hadoop, nosql, and graph databases all have their places, provided the solution you buy is scalable.
Clean Up Data First
The golden rule is not to automate anything before you understand it. Know the origin of your data, and if this is not reliable clean it up before you automate it. Big Data projects fail when executives become so enthused by results that they forget to ask themselves, ‘Does this make sense in terms of what I expected?’
Beware First Impressions.
Big Data is just that. Many bits of information aggregated into averages and summaries. It does not make recommendations. It only prompts questions and what-if’s. Overlooking the need for the analytics that must follow can have you blindly relying on algorithms while setting your business sense aside.
Hire the Best Brains
Big Data’s competitive advantage depends on what human minds make with the processed information it spits out. This means tracing and affording creative talent able to make the shift from reactive analytics to proactive interaction with the data, and the customer decisions behind it.
If this provides a déjà vu moment then you are not alone. Every iteration of the software revolution has seen vendors selling while the fish were running, and buyers clamouring for the opportunity. Decide what you want out first, use clean data, beware first impressions and get your analytics right. Then you are on the way to migrating successfully from CRM to Big Data.
Hadoop is a data system so big it is like a virtual jumbo where your PC is a flea. One of the developers named it after his kid’s toy elephant so there is no complicated acronym to stumble over. The system is actually conceptually simple. It has loads of storage capacity and an unusual way of processing data. It does not wait for big files to report in to its software. Instead, it takes the processing system to the data.
The next question is what to do with Hadoop. Perhaps the question would be better expressed as, what can we do with a wonderful opportunity that we could not do before. Certainly, Hadoop is not for storing videos when your laptop starts complaining. The interfaces are clumsy and Hadoop belongs in the realm of large organizations that have the money. Here are two examples to illustrate the point.
Hadoop in Healthcare
In the U.S., healthcare generates more than 150 gigabytes of data annually. Within this data there are important clues that online training provider DeZyre believes could lead to these solutions:
Personalized cancer treatments that relate to how individual genomes cause the disease to mutate uniquely
Intelligent online analysis of life signs (blood pressure, heart beat, breathing) in remote children’s hospitals treating multiple victims of catastrophes
Mining of patient information from health records, financial status and payroll data to understand how these variables impact on patient health
Understanding trends in healthcare claims to empower hospitals and health insurers to increase their competitive advantages.
New ways to prevent health insurance fraud by correlating it with claims histories, attorney costs and call centre notes.
Hadoop in Retail
The retail industry also generates a vast amount of data, due to consumer volumes and multiple touch points in the delivery funnel. Skillspeed business trainers report the following emerging trends:
Tracing individual consumers along the marketing trail to determine individual patterns for different demographics and understand consumers better.
Obtaining access to aggregated consumer feedback regarding advertising campaigns, product launches, competitor tactics and so on.
Staying with individual consumers as they move through retail outlets and personalising their experience by delivering contextual messages.
Understanding the routes that virtual shoppers follow, and adding handy popups with useful hints and tips to encourage them on.
Detecting trends in consumer preferences in order to forecast next season sales and stock up or down accordingly.
Where to From Here?
Big data mining is akin to deep space research in that we are exploring fresh frontiers and discovering new worlds of information. The future is as broad as our imagination. Denizon would like to travel with you into yours.
Master Data is the critical electronic information about the company we cannot afford to lose. Accordingly, we should sanitise it, look after it, and store it safely in several separate places that are independent of each other. The advent of Big Data introduced the current era of huge repositories ‘in the clouds’. They are not, of course but at least they are remote. This short article includes a discussion about Hadoop, and whether this is a good platform to back up your Master Data.
Hadoop is an open-source Apache software framework built on the assumption that hardware failure is so common that backups are unavoidable. It comprises a storage area and a management part that distributes the data to smaller nodes where it processes faster and more efficiently. Prominent users include Yahoo! and Facebook. In fact more than half Fortune 50 companies were using Hadoop in 2013.
Hadoop – initially launched in December 2011 – has survived its baptism of fire and became a respected, reliable option. But is this something the average business owner can tackle on their own? Bear in mind that open source software generally comes with little implementation support from the vendor.
The Hadoop Strong Suite
Free to download, use and contribute to
Everything you need ‘in the box’ to get started
Distributed across multiple firewalled computers
Fast processing of data held in efficient cluster nodes
Massive scaleable storage you are unlikely to run out of
There is more to Hadoop than writing to WordPress. The most straightforward solutions are uploading using Java commands, obtaining an interface mechanism, or using third party vendor connectors such as ACCESS or SAS. The system does not replace the need for IT support, although it is cheap and exceptionally powerful.
The Not-Free Safer Option
Smaller companies without in-depth in-house support are wise to engage with a technical intermediary. There are companies providing commercial implementations followed by support. Microsoft, Amazon and Google among others all have commercial versions in their catalogues, and support teams at the end of the line.
Speak to Denizon Next
It is unwise to rely on a backup you either do not trust or do not fully understand. We have business continuity consultants with a breadth of experience that’s worth considering. Following a risk assessment we’ll provide you with cost effective solutions, that take the worry out of backup so you always feel secure.
Big data and business intelligence (BI) have become the bywords in the current global economy. As consumers today browse, buy, communicate, use their gadgets, and interact on social networks, they leave in their trail a whole lot of data that can serve as a goldmine of information organizations can glean from. With such information at the disposal of or easily obtainable by businesses, you can expect that big data solutions will be at the forefront of these organizations’ efforts to create value for the customer and gain advantage over competitors.
Research firm Gartner’s latest survey of CIOs which included 2,300 respondents from 44 countries revealed that the three top priority investments for 2012 to 2015 as rated by the CIOs surveyed are Analytics and Business Intelligence, Mobile Technologies, and Cloud Computing. In addition, Gartner predicts that about $232 million in IT spending until 2016 will be driven by big data. This is a clear indication that the intelligent use of data is going to be a defining factor in most organizations.
Yet while big data offers a lot of growth opportunities for enterprises, there remains a big question on the capability of businesses to leverage on the available data. Do they have the means to deploy the required storage, computing resources, and analytical software needed to capture value from the rapidly increasing torrent of data?
Without the appropriate analytics and BI tools, raw data will remain as it is – a potential source of valuable information but always unutilized. Only when they can take the time, complexity and expense out of processing huge datasets obtained from customers, employees, consumers in general, and sensor-embedded products can businesses hope to fully harness the power of information.
So where does the cloud fit into all these?
Access to analytics and BI solutions have all too often been limited to large corporations, and within these organizations, a few business analysts and key executives. But that could quickly become a thing of the past because the cloud can now provide exactly what big data analytics requires – the ability to draw on large amounts of data and massive computing power – at a fraction of the cost and complexity these resources once entailed.
At their end, cloud service providers already deal with the storage, hardware, software, networking and security requirements needed for BI, with the resources available on an on-demand, pay-as-you-go approach. In doing so, they make analytics and access to relevant information simplified, and therefore more ubiquitous in the long run.
As the amount of data continues to grow exponentially on a daily basis, sophisticated analytics will be a priority IT technology across all industries, with organizations scrambling to find impactful insights from big data. Cloud-based services ensure that both small and large companies can benefit from the significantly reduced costs of BI solutions as well as the quick delivery of information, allowing for precise and insightful analytics as close to real time as possible.
If you have any Cloud Computing questions or concerns: contact us.
Strengthens business continuity/disaster recovery capabilities
Today’s business landscape calls for companies to have reliable business continuity and disaster recovery capabilities. After all, when the system goes down, customers and even employees would rarely ask ‘why‘ or ‘what happened‘ but instead go directly to the ‘how soon can we get back up‘ part.
So unless they’ve been struck by the same unforeseen disaster your business is also experiencing, a couple of hours downtime is plenty enough for most of these people. What’s worse is when they simply don’t wait until they get access again and just go to other providers that can offer the same services. In short, your inability to provide continuous IT and business services could translate to lost opportunities which your competition would only be too willing to gain. And that’s not even counting the possibility of losing essential data and other potential negative impact that critical IT failure can bring about.
The answer to avoiding such a scenario is of course, having a sound business continuity and disaster recovery plan in place. But this is actually easier said than done.
Traditionally, setting up a business continuity plan entailed some tedious procedures in addition to very costly infrastructure. We’re talking here about acquiring and maintaining practically a replication of the hardware infrastructure and environments currently existing for business-critical systems and data. Note that these mirror systems should be set-up, housed, and maintained in a remote facility or location.
Making the deployment even more complex is the constant need to update the data in storage as well as keep software applications in sync between the system in use and the one on standby mode. This process would involve the physical transfer of data and syncing of applications, which is cumbersome and again, expensive.
While large enterprises would not even think twice about having to spend so much to ensure that operations would never come to a grinding halt, most small and mid-sized organizations would not have the required financial means for them to even start considering this option. Often, the bulk of their disaster recovery plan would simply consist of some tape backups, and a lot of hoping that they would never have to suffer from any outage or IT failure.
But all that can be changed with the arrival of cloud computing.
A cloud strategy offers an affordable solution for business continuity and disaster recovery for SMBs with limited resources and even big companies trying to minimize expenses by looking for alternative options.
A reliable service provider would already have the required infrastructure and software vital to a viable BC/DR plan and complete with the appropriate security measures. Organizations need not spend upfront for these facilities, but get to benefit from having updated data backup and a virtualized mirror system that would allow them to quickly get back up in the event of an outage or catastrophic disaster.
When looking to the cloud for a cost-effective BC/DR plan however, it’s worth keeping in mind that not all cloud providers are created equal. That’s why businesses also have many important factors to take into account before signing cloud contracts.
Yes, provision for continuity and and taking necessary precautions against outages are inherent in the cloud service itself, but you’d be surprised how many of these providers don’t actually take responsibility for service interruption. To give organizations some assurance of the cloud company’s capacity for continued service, contracts should stipulate availability guarantees and liability for downtime that the provider is willing to answer for.
Once these relevant issues are ironed out however, it’s easy for business to see how cloud-based data storage and computing can significantly lower the costs involved for SMB BC/DR while greatly improving efficiency, mobility, and collaboration capabilities.
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Cloud adoption has been quick and painless at the consumer level. For instance, everyone’s on Gmail, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter on a daily basis yet most think nothing of the fact that they’re already using cloud-based services. Small businesses have also discovered how cloud solutions have raised efficiency in the workplace up a notch or two, while also bringing about significant cost savings. Cloud applications, particularly those for communication, file sharing, office software, backup and storage, and customer management, have rapidly grown in usage among SMBs.
In the same manner, large corporations are starting to see the potential of moving some of their IT department, whether its infrastructure or network management, to the cloud. By all indications it would seem that whether we are ready for it or not, cloud computing technology is here for the long haul.
So where is the cloud headed to next? In this post we examine the trends in the world of cloud computing and what likely lies in store in the near future for cloud users.
Focus on Security
Security has always been a key concern in the cloud computing industry and this will not go away anytime soon. If anything, data security in the cloud will only get to be in the limelight even more as cloud adopters grow in number. That’s why we expect professional cloud services providers to start implementing measures that will help slowly build up confidence in cloud security.
We should soon see more advanced security techniques and protocols that would increase the overall level of privacy and protection for cloud-stored information. Tighter security for login encryptions and prevention of unauthorized access are priority although there are a lot more issues that may need to be addressed. Now it remains to be seen whether these moves are enough for corporate clients to put their full trust in the cloud. But then again, they can always find ways to stay secure while making use of cloud computing where they can, which brings us to the next cloud trend.
Large businesses are taking a longer time to get used to and actually use cloud services, and understandably so. After all, these companies have more at stake when it comes to dealing with such valid issues as security, compliance, outages, legacy systems, and more. However, they also cannot ignore the very appealing characteristics of the cloud. For big companies that have substantial IT needs, scalability, business agility, and faster deployment are listed as the biggest draws of the cloud.
This is why analysts predict that as as these businesses look toward leveraging the benefits of the cloud while at the same time maintaining control over mission critical data and systems, the use of a hybrid approach, i.e. putting some services in a public and at the same time opting to utilize a private cloud for other applications, will see enormous growth.
Mobile Cloud Computing
The BYOD or Bring Your Own Device business policy is another emerging trend that would not have been possible if not for cloud technology. This practice involves having employees bring their mobile devices to work, allowing them to access company files, data, and applications from their personally-owned gadgets in and out of the workplace.
As with any new business practice, the concept of BYOD can be both advantageous and disadvantageous. On the one hand, some believe it helps increase employee productivity and lifts their morale, while reducing overall IT costs. On the other hand, BYOD also opens up a whole new set of problems that are quite consistent with what many businesses take issue with with cloud technology: security. Do the pros outweigh the cons or vice versa? This much isn’t clear yet but what is evident is that more cloud apps are going mobile.
While cost savings has always been one benefit that cloud proponents are quick to point out, its capability to improve and streamline business processes, thereby increasing efficiency and agility within the organization, is another key opportunity that the cloud offers. This is evident when you take a look at the most commonly used cloud services: backup and archiving, business continuity, collaboration tools, and big data processing.
Moreover, the cloud is making it easier for individuals to create new products and produce new lines of business. With access to higher IT capacity at lesser cost and at faster deployment rates, businesses can scale into more innovation without having to worry about the availability of computing resources.
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