Big Data folklore reminds us to consider 3 dimensions of "big": Volume, Variety and Velocity. So lots of Data, most likely unstructured rather than easily read or interpreted by a machine or human, and arriving at ever accelerating speed. So "Big Data" in a very literal sense.
Whilst strategies, and technology innovations have emerged to provide scalable "Big Data" infrastructure - NoSQL, Hadoop, Storage Virtualisation, Cloud etc. our ability to analyse has not kept pace with the explosion in data.
Performing analytics on bad data, or irrelevant data in the current situational context, is worse than having no data at all. If the data is "Big" then you will have consumed yet more time, effort and resources (human and machine) than otherwise - and still end up with incorrect results, and therefore compromised conclusions leading to erroneous decisions. So Big Data turning into Bad Data rather than Good Data.
Trying to build intelligent business solutions, adding a degree of predictive foresight, rather then simply extrapolating insight from historical hindsight - is predicated on Good Big Data. The nature of what is considered "Good Data" will be discussed in a future blog entry, but for now let's make this about the imperative for "Trusted Information" or e.g. "Single View of < entity >". Bad Data that has either been discounted, or filtered out of "gold-mastered" datasets can become valuable Good Data again in another analytical context e.g. as an indicator of potentially fraudulent activity. So don't lose data if you can't predict when/if it may be valuable to you in the future. Conversely Good Data can become Bad Data just as easily, again when the context changes.
Quite apart from having to deal with the first 3V's of Big Data - prediction is inherently difficult. Accurate prediction is heavily dependent upon judicious use of Pure and Applied Mathematics. We rely on the ability of algorithms to help us make sense of "big data", but our analytical perspective is limited by a number of factors (environment, process, experience, prejudice, preference, situation) and always by the resolution of the observed data, in context, in a particular geospatial location (i.e. place, and time). Prediction is about identifying patterns and trends in data captured and being observed now, fast enough do something about it now or in near real-time. Competitive advantage will be gained by businesses with the ability to make better decisions, faster.
In terms of directing next best action in response to external stimuli, this could be expressed as adding a Vector - combining with Velocity (or Speed with Direction), i.e adding a 4th "V" to Big Data, thus:
The ability to make accurate predictions is a function of our ability to count instances of observations in relevant data sets. At this point in the discussion it's worth remembering a famous "anti-pattern":
Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.
- Albert Einstein, (attributed) US (German-born) physicist (1879 - 1955)
Just because you can count something doesn't make it relevant to your analysis or decision making. You might be counting the right things, but looking in the wrong place. That is your observations are being taken from a data set that is either (a) no longer valid (b) was never valid or (c) never will be valid. The data in question could be "trusted" but still not valid (see nature of bi-temporal data in terms of effectivity over time), or relevent - which is much harder to determine. Or you could be looking for the wrong things in the right places, or for the right things at the wrong time; it doesn't matter the result is the same: Bad Analytics, leading to Bad Decisions.
Introduction to Smarter Process Discovery with ZDLC from Cognizant
Previous alliance partnering success acknowledged with two IBM Beacon Awards.
The Cap Gemini Ernst & Young Group (CGE&Y), one of the world's largest providers of consulting, technology and outsourcing services, announced that the company is the recipient of two IBM PartnerWorld Beacon awards, becoming the first IBM Global Systems Integrator to capture two of these prestigious awards in the same year. CGE&Y was honored with the Global Consultants & Integrators award for implementing an IBM e-business solution and the Rational Most Valuable Partner award for helping its clients develop higher quality software solutions faster using the IBM Rational development platform.
The IBM PartnerWorld Beacon Awards recognize IBM Business Partners that have excelled in providing quality e-business solutions and services to customers based on IBM technologies. All winners were announced at the Beacon Awards ceremony March 1 at PartnerWorld 2004 in Las Vegas.
This first award distinguishes CGE&Y for its successful implementation of an IBM e-business solution. The award was presented to CGE&Y as a result of its work with Abbey on its Customer Relationship Management (CRM) program, One on One. Abbey is one of the UK's leading personal financial services companies with over 18 million customers.
The One On One solution will provide a market-leading CRM capability to Abbey's 12,000 customer-facing staff at over 700 locations. It delivers a single consistent view of the end customer, providing benefits such as improved sales productivity, increased product penetration, and heightened employee productivity and efficiency. One On One, based upon IBM hardware and software, as well as Siebel Systems eFinance business application software, aims to deliver higher quality customer service and greater customer retention, as well as enabled the use of marketing analytics to provide cross-sell and up-sell prompts that lead to increased “share of wallet” with the customer. This is accomplished while simultaneously lending an innovative technical platform that allows Abbey to react with speed and flexibility in the marketplace.
“Prior to working with CGE&Y and implementing One On One, our staff had to use many different product-centric systems in order to serve the customer. Customer data was spread among these heritage systems. Each silo of customer data had its own context, preventing us from attaining a consistent view of our customers,” explained Graeme Yorston, IT Director, Abbey. “One on One is imperative for us. We will be able to serve our customers better and increase our sales effectiveness, achieving greater customer satisfaction. We will accomplish this because customer information will be more readily accessible in a single place, personalized according to the needs of individual customers, and easier for our staff to understand and act upon.”
“The work of our project teams at Abbey and in other complex change programmes sets the standard that others have to follow”, said Ed Hutt, Global Alliances Organization Leader, Cap Gemini Ernst & Young. “We aim to have all the contributing alliance partners, including ourselves and our joint clients, working together so that the integration is seamless. The net result of what you can see and feel is the quality of what they achieve in collaboration together.” Hutt added, “Supported by our alliance commitments to joint business development and client satisfaction, our joint clients are the true beneficiaries of this approach.”
The Rational Most Valuable Partner award is presented to the company that strives to improve the software development capability of its customers with IBM's Rational software development platform. The award was presented to CGE&Y as a result of its use of Rational technology in a number of successful engagements in CGE&Y Sweden.
“The Rational Award is a result of our strength in delivering value to our customers using Rational Software products,” said Anna Hard af Segerstad, Swedish Rational Alliance Leader, Cap Gemini Ernst & Young.
CGE&Y adopted IBM's Rational Unified Process (RUP) in 2001 as the basis for providing consistency in working methods across the CGE&Y's Accelerated Delivery Centers and for use in global client engagements that involve custom software development. CGE&Y currently has 1,600 copies of Rational Software products installed in its global network of 27 Accelerated Delivery Centers, and over the last five years it has standardized the RUP, making it the foundation for its global delivery method.
“The Rational tools automate our global delivery method and facilitate the use by our Centers of a common process and toolkit to deliver predictable, consistent, high quality, and repeatable solutions,” explained Garry Gomersall, Global IBM Alliance Leader, Cap Gemini Ernst & Young. “Using the Rational tools, we have experienced a 30 percent productivity improvement on even the most complex projects. We anticipate further improvement as the technology continues to evolve.”
“The measure of the CGE&Y-IBM relationship can be seen in the results we have delivered for our joint clients. We have senior executive leadership from both of our companies actively involved in ensuring mutual success in client projects. We've trained thousands of CGE&Y consultants to enable successful implementation of IBM technology. We have strong success stories to prove that the value delivered by our relationship is real and that the results are deserving of special recognition,” noted Tim McChristian, General Manager of the IBM Computer Services Industry, the group that manages the CGE&Y business partner relationship.
Use of Public cloud for consumer applications, and common business productivity applications offered as "software as a service" is now a viable option understood and embraced by all but the latest adopters (it would be unfair to describe them as laggards). SalesForce has been the poster child in defining Software As A Service as a market reality, not just as a CRM vendor but as a platform environment for application development. The Public Cloud is synonymous with industry behemoths like Amazon AWS, and Google. Public Cloud is now a practical, affordable, and "resiliant-enough" proposition for many useful business applications. In business, good enough, is frankly, good enough in many situations.
For enterprise customers, impeding the march to cloud has been a natural aversion to risk in migrating mission critical applications to the new computing model.
Public-Private hybrid clouds increasingly are becoming the desirable norm for businesses wishing to retain responsibility over their core applications, company information and most importantly the private data of customers, suppliers and partners.
The battle ground for cloud service providers (CSPs), and the ISV application community is on how best to encourage and accelerate migration of core Enterprise workloads. That is those traditional ERP, HCM, CRM, SCM and core process-centric applications from the major platform vendors - SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, Pega etc.
New "cloud-first" providers in the HCM space - particularly SuccessFactors (SAP owned) and Workday, BPM space (Appian), and CRM (SalesForce) have led the way in re-defining the use cases and consumption model for software services and cloud delivered applications. The ERP, SCM, core transactional, middleware and data application vendors - typically executing on complex distributed heterogenous environments and/or running on "mainframe" class big tin, continue to lag behind.
Given the market velocity for cloud based solutions, the alternative for the major players is either to cede competitive ground and cloud market share to new entrants/more agile product vendors, or leverage their healthy balance sheets to acquire innovators. All the major players continue to be acquisitive and one could argue "creative" in accounting for software and services revenue attributed to cloud.
Migration of SAP core and typically heavily customised application workloads to cloud is inherently challenging. HANA provides a potential and necessary on-ramp to the cloud, but it remains hard to gauge the appetite of existing customers for risk in transitioning to the cloud. This probably isn't the intention. More likely, is that the "system of record" will stay on premise - in the medium term ? Whilst only new applications will be built with cloud and mobile "first" - to maximise the economic, on-demand elasticity of cloud resources; and to improve customer experiences.
The distribution of work - distinguishing clearly between "systems of interaction", "engagement" and "record" helps to show how core application investments can be re-factored and re-purposed without recourse to full application migration to the cloud. The vendors themselves are naturally actively engaged in this portfolio re-alignment, e.g. with the advance and strategic commitment by Oracle to it's Fusion application(s) platform, and as seen with SAPs acquisition of Ariba, Successfactors and it's determination to grow cloud based revenue and promote HANA adoption more widely.
Within the cloud infrastructure domain (IaaS), and recognising the market switch to Hybrid cloud as the de-facto enterprise norm, innovation players like Virtustream bring differentiated IP to the table in providing robust security, compliance and genuine consumption based pricing and analytics. IBM Softlayer have recently announced adoption of Virtustream to assist in supporting SAP and HANA cloud workloads. The same strategy could be applied to any number of I/O intensive "statefull" application stacks.
At the process and functional levels tools exist to help IT managers safeguard application "corporate memory" in porting existing applications to (a) more agile technologies whilst preserving process ASIS integrity, and (b) lift and shift candidate "TOBE" application processes to the cloud. (see ZDLC from Cognizant for Smart Process Migration.
So an informed combination of BPaaS / SaaS, PaaS, IaaS can be assembled or "composed" that can retain enterprise level qualities of service, mitigate business continuity risk, promote adoption of innovation and brings forward the true benefits associated with a migration to the cloud. Irrespective of topology be it Public, Private, or the more commonly seen Public-Private Hybrid combination.
New era analytical capabilities harnessing the power of Cognitive computing heralded by technologies such as IBM Watson afford new opportunities for semantic question/answer intelligent based services, again primed for the cloud.
We are entering the era of Composable business applications delivered on the cloud. Vendors and services companies are all being reconfigured to respond to the market shift, and not all will survive. On the flip side, as history teaches us, it is likely that some of the leading cloud, solution and services companies 5 years from now - probably don't even exist today.
This is one of the most powerful use cases for predictive analytics that we all care about: improving patient outcomes.
An example of "Context Accumulation" in driving key knowledge worker decision making and next best action - around a patient "code halo".
This is a quite astonishing statistic. Africa is leading the way in mobile commerce. There are so many interesting areas in both the public and private sectors that mobile payments, combined with geo-spatial situational context and predictive analytics are changing the way we consume or access services.