Kartic's Musings on Corporate Information and Knowledge Management

July 10, 2015

De-mystifying Big Data

Filed under: SharePoint — kartickapur @ 2:24 pm

I have heard the term ‘big data’ mentioned at least 5 million times in last couple of years and to be really honest, at times, I have struggled to define this concept perfectly. This article is an attempt to de-mystify it a bit for those who are lost in the sea of data about big data!

So here goes:

What is big data about? Well it is quite simple really. Its about these 3 things:

  • Its about Large volumes of data – when I say large volumes, it means things that traditional data processing solutions can’t handle)
  • Its about diversity of data – data gathered from social media, sensors, other devices, web applications, consumer behaviour etc.
  • Its about data streaming – data delivered at different speeds and frequencies.

Why, then you would ask, should we embrace big data for your company? Instead of me trying to come up with a sales pitch, let me reference some information from Bain and Company study. Better still, let me share a cool diagram:

big data 1

(here is the reference: From Bain & Company report (2014), ‘Big Data” The organizational challenge’, Microsoft Enterprise website http://www.microsoft.com/enterprise/it-trends/big-data/articles/big-data-the-organizational-challenge.aspx)

Then is it really different from BI? Yes and No. Here is my attempt at explaining why:

  • ‘Big Data analytics’ is a BI practice
  • Big data analytics explores granular details of business operations and customer interactions that seldom find their way into a data warehouse or standard report.
  • Types of implementations
    • Companies that manage big data in their Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW) and execute most analytical processing there.
    • Companies that design their EDW for the well understood, auditable and ‘clean data’ that average business report demands and distribute their effort onto secondary analytic platforms.
    • Hybrid approach

Just to put things into perspective, if you are still not convinced about big data, let me share a case study (done by Microsoft with you). Here are my notes on that study:

From study conducted for manufacturing sector in US, here are some key facts –

  • $371 Billion potential net value of data dividend over 4 years if companies become data smart.
  • Recommendation to perform 4 actions to realize a 60% greater return on their data assets:
    • bring together even as few as 3-4 discrete data sources,
    • use modern analytics tools to glean insights from data,
    • surface those insights in a consumable fashion to the right decision makers across the company and
    • ensure that insights from data are shared in a timely manner.
  • Key Benefits (for manufacturing)
    • Employee Productivity – running highly automated manufacturing plants where robots, devises, sensors, software are connected increases productivity
    • Operational Improvement – Improving operational efficiencies and lowering costs using predictive analytics (condition based maintenance, better energy management, improved asset management)
    • Product Innovation – using data to drive business growth with smarter product planning and innovation
    • Customer Facing – Building better customer engagement models and uncovering new service offerings

And here is a pie chart to display these statistics (because I love pie charts):

big data 2

(here is the reference: From <http://blogs.technet.com/b/vertical_industries/archive/2014/05/22/the-371-billion-opportunity-for-data-smart-manufacturers.aspx>)

July 1, 2015

Office 365 Tenancy – sharing with other companies

Filed under: SharePoint — kartickapur @ 8:58 am

As companies embark on their cloud journey, I am sure more organisations will be asking themselves whether there is more. The answer is ‘Yes’ there is always more as we embark on next technological advancement that we can’t even comprehend. But my thoughts drift towards whether we can get more from the existing technology. Well this is where I started thinking about whether, while sharing Infrastructure in the cloud, would companies not gain from sharing tenancy (in office 365 for instance). We did some analysis on this and came up with some exciting outcomes.

Think about possibilities of Inter-organisation collaboration beyond what good old extranet can offer and lately made possible with technologies like Yammer.

Some examples where shared tenancy can work as not just an enabler for saving cost but also driving collaboration and innovation are:

  • Hospitals – Can lead to shared customer database, increased knowledge sharing in real time for doctors and in stretch scenarios being able to leverage off resources by sharing them when needed.
  • Government Departments – The possibilities are endless as we start connecting department of education to human resources, Customs with immigration, renewable energy with ‘well’ Energy, finance with every other government department.
  • Schools – I can’t even begin to enlist the possibilities here
  • The list can go on…and on

But wait! before you embark on this journey, here are few things to consider:

  • Governance
    • How will this be managed? Perhaps a governance board would be a good start with membership representing different companies.
  • Security
    • You can lock down information of course, but this is again a Governance decision.
    • This shared tenancy cannot become a repository for records management (unless there is a good reason for that)
  • Information Architecture
    • Where does information live?
    • How do users navigate to information
    • Search – right people being able to search for relevant information
    • Business Taxonomy – there has to be an agreement on this if you go for a central taxonomy architecture. Go for distributed model if consensus is not possible.
  • What about customizations?
    • This is a governance question as well but falls under IT governance. Perhaps another committee with members from IT departments of these organisations.
    • A big plus is the possibility of introducing cross departmental automation of business processes. This will need to be ratified with central governance committee – both business and IT groups.
  • User Identity management
  • Administration – who controls it. This is all about power.

I am not sure how many private organisations are seriously considering this but I have started to see some shared tenancies popping up in government set up.

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