In this headline, I’m actually referring to a couple of things. Yes, the cloud (for this post, virtual storage) is becoming more pervasive – no news there. But perhaps not as obvious is how this changing IT environment is clouding the previously distinct lines between the business models of our various partner types.At our recent Global Partner Summit, I spoke with more and more traditional resellers who are getting into the cloud service provider business, or partnering with EMC’s Service Provider partners who are already there. We also see our systems integrators reselling technology as they help larger customers build out massive data centers to develop their own on premises private cloud service. In essence, I’m seeing what used to be silo-ed partner communities melding together and becoming increasingly dependent on one another, significantly blurring the lines between technology partner types.So what does this mean to traditional resellers? Value-added resellers are well-positioned in this new environment, given their stronghold with customers. Their customers depend on them to assess their IT needs and deliver a multi-faceted solution – which, by the way, could include brokering pay-by-the-drip cloud service with an established Service Provider (SP) partner.My advice to resellers is to get enabled to help customers build their own on premises private clouds, and to break down the silos and build relationships with established SPs. EMC has a robust SP program with a new entry path for resellers who want to add that capability to their portfolio, as well as a group of solid SP partners who are established on EMC technology. Resellers should also connect with systems integrators to help them meet their customers’ technology needs in building large data centers.Let’s face it. IT is the most dynamic, fast-changing industry and the changes are having a dramatic impact on our world. This leads to my most critical advice to technology partners: deepen your connection with a vendor who is at the leading edge of these changes – who has not only the vision, but the market strength and financial heft to invest in R&D and stay at the forefront of IT. I’m a bit biased, but I’m proud to say that EMC fills this bill. And we are committed to having partners alongside us every step of the way as we chart the course of the changing IT landscape.The partner ecosystem is alive and well, and will become even more vibrant as partners better understand how their success – and their customers’ success – depends on tighter connections with the right vendor and with partners in adjacent disciplines. Clouding – or blurring – of the lines between various partners is indeed a good thing.
Healthcare is a field that can benefit enormously from the data deluge. Imagine a world where all records, test results, and research were linked. RFID tags are now the norm in healthcare. These smart tags are used from streamlining patient flow, to reducing cost and inventory and preventing theft. Consultants now share data via mobile devices to allow for remote viewing of medical images. Take this to the next level and globally, the data sets are huge. Linking all of this data is the next step in the process. Global health data should be available to research institutes for in-depth analysis, thus leading to efficiencies in the healthcare system and ultimately, to finding cures and the effective prevention of terminal disease. The data is there, but the question remains if the right people are using it. Financial ROI: Can you get the numbers to stack up financially? Or more importantly, do you have a deep enough understanding of how Big Data can work for your organisation? If the answer is no, then you need to rethink your Big Data strategy.While the organisations I meet with are not all global players, the data sets they create are vast and this is where companies of any size can start to unlock their value. In Ireland, Big Data is already at work in various industries.Insurance affects every one of us. From car, to house, to health insurance, it all costs money and effective data management could provide significant reductions in premiums if used correctly. Take car insurance for example. Devices are now being installed in the cars of drivers who are just learning to drive and premiums are being customised from the results of this data. Through the manipulation of data sets, insurers can create policies based on accurate insight and complement the work done by actuaries. The actuary now has access to new real-time data that can provide much greater insight into the business. They can drive revenues but also price policies according to real-time metrics that can reduce premiums for the end user. It will get to the point that the insurer will know – based on the data – if a driver is going to make a claim and can then tailor the policy to suit. I was asked a couple of weeks ago to present to a group on Big Data. The target audience was C-level executives in the SME (Small and Medium-sized Enterprise) arena. Now in Ireland, this is a very different scale than that of the U.S. or larger European countries. Maximum size here for SME would be 250 employees; however, Ireland is the EU headquarters for the majority of the top 10 global tech companies. It’s important for these organisations to understand that Big Data is not restricted to large enterprises only, and they should not feel intimidated by the challenge that lies ahead.I’ll admit straight away that I firmly believe everybody can gain value from Big Data in some way, shape or form, but you have to look at your organisation and see if it can meet the following criteria before you ever get started on the journey.In-house Expertise: Do you have the in-house expertise to deliver on such a plan? Big Data projects require resources with deep technical and analytical skills, but also industry knowledge across many sectors. This is often referred to in the industry as a Data Scientist. Remember, they will be looking at data sets from many different sources and trying to piece them together to gain insight into your customer base and ultimately to add to the bottom line. Banking and Finance is an industry that doesn’t move very quickly with new initiatives as it is highly regulated and has major security and privacy restrictions. Because of these factors, it usually takes some time to get things moving. That time has come. If you could predict what your customer was doing, could you add value and tailor marketing and solutions to meet their needs? Of course you could. This is not a risky business, but it will drive revenues and increase customer satisfaction.Here at EMC, our internal IT department runs BAaaS – Business Analytics-as-a-Service. This introduces a new agile model for reporting and analytics. Data scientists and business analysts, by way of secure access to EMC’s global data sets, can now generate their own analytics reports on our infrastructure, and the results are back in minutes instead of hours or even days. This service allows business units to crunch their own data specific to their needs, which is where the real value is.In my opinion, every organisation should have access to such a system, but the question remains – do you build it yourself or pay for the service in the cloud? Well, that’s up to you, but the trick here is to not get left behind.
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