The Big Data Opportunity
It is very apparent that data has emerged as the most valuable asset of companies. For years’ companies have spent countless dollars securing it, transporting it, storing it, organizing it and even visualizing it. For over five years straight Data has been at the top of Gartner’s top initiatives for CIO’s.  Contrast this with Networking/Voice/Data Communications which is #10. Data is in fact ahead of cloud, mobile, security and more. This whole train got moving after Thomas Davenport of Harvard published the article “Competing on Analytics” in 2006. The article described how businesses have discovered data as the most valuable asset and will now start competing based on data using the term he coined “Data Driven Decision Making.”
The market began to immediately move to take advantage of these new ideas. Early adopters and startups sought out the best in technology and much came and went and was learned. Analytics 1.0 came to a close and Analytics 2.0 got off to a start. Meanwhile, many sat on the sidelines waiting to see how things would shake out, knowing they probably should be doing something, but unsure of exactly what that something was.
Much of this has been brought about by the Analytics 3.0 way of thinking. Analytics 1.0 marked the time before Big Data. Analytics 2.0 was after Big Data. Now Analytics 3.0 is the era of mature data enriched offerings.
Now we have the Analytics 3.0 era: Mature solutions, with partners that have emerged with best of breed offerings, and consumers spending to bring those offerings into their businesses. The 2016 Gartner data shows that the #1 technology area where CIO’s are looking to spend is in BI and Analytics. 
Big Data Analytics and the Internet of Things
Big Data is all about taking the data you have, and putting it to work for you to gain a competitive advantage over your competition. The nirvana of Big Data is that huge amounts of data could be analyzed: financial, supply chain, logistics, operations, just to name a few. But how is this data created in the first place? This is one of the biggest challenges that face many companies. They existed for so long without all of this rich data and now they must find a way to first generate the data, and second put it to work for them.
In some industries which leverage primarily software, generating this data required less effort and little cost. This is why businesses such as Facebook, Google, Amazon, and many others were quick to start gathering more data and analyzing it. All that was required is additional programming to enrich the applications to start generating more and more data.
Many industries do not have the luxury of just changing some software to generate all the data they need. These are traditional brick and mortar businesses with hard goods that must be created, shipped and dealt with. These businesses require augmentation to their existing environments to generate the data they need. This data is then used to enhance efficiencies, increase profits, and improve customer experience amongst other things.
Presidio’s IoT practice is ideally suited to help customers transform their legacy operational technology into data generating and driven platforms that are ripe to be consumed by Big Data technology. Big Data and IoT are part and parcel to one another. Big Data is about data. IoT is about data, devices and connectivity. IoT provides the platform for which the data can be acquired and leveraged in operations. That data must be processed, and analyzed before it can be acted upon, and that is where Big Data comes in.
The disruption of IT purchasing and need for business value
Over the last several years we have seen numerous factors disrupting traditional VAR business. Traditionally VAR relationships were forged with the IT leaders such as Directors and Vice Presidents of IT. These were the gatekeepers for IT decisions and purchasing and VARs did an excellent job in forming valuable alliances with these types of individuals for a mutually beneficial relationship. Now of days, with the advent of Cloud and SaaS solutions, Line of Business owners oftentimes view IT as a roadblock to getting their jobs done. They feel empowered to seek solutions using their own budgets. The promise of Cloud and SaaS means that they do not need an entire IT staff to support their business unit’s initiatives. Many of these initiatives are all about Data. These leaders do not want to talk about Cisco vs. HP, or NetApp vs. EMC, they could care less. They want their problems solved and they are looking to those that can help them. Almost all business problems today are being solved by Software. Software needs to run on infrastructure, but it’s the Software that is most relevant to solving the problem at hand. By developing a practices around key Big Data software components, VARs are in a position to help drive end-to-end solutions and establish business contacts and relevancy across a wide range of lines of business.
Software is Eating the World
In 2011, Marc Andreessen wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal, “Software is Eating the World.” The summary from that article is, that you are either building a software business or losing to someone who is. Enterprises are being driven to compete, innovate & execute faster than ever before. Some of this is due to Global reach and emerging markets, ever increasing customer expectations and cost pressures from legacy environments. This is a time where we are witnessing the most disruptive platform shifts and advances in technology in over 30 years.
Every business is fundamentally becoming a software business. We believe the role that software plays inside an organization will define its future success. We only need to look at the famous examples of Amazon and Borders, Netflix and Blockbuster. iTunes and the Music Industry to see the writing on the wall for the traditional enterprise. Software is how companies engage with customers in the most meaningful and timely ways, powered by data insights and new devices.
Devices are becoming Intelligent. This is the core of what is driving IoT. Devices are being instrumented with sensors and intelligence so that they can report back more Data. Ultimately this is how businesses are getting fed the information that is helping them be more successful.
Software and integration is the secret sauce. Once you have this data, you need to integrate it into the rest of your core systems: ERP, CRM, Supply Chain, etc. This is very much data and software going to work to make your business more competitive.
Why do companies care?
There are many reasons why companies care about deploying a data strategy. Here are some of the top reasons of how companies are benefiting and what is driving the adoption of data:
- Operational Efficiency addresses the age old Principle/Agent problem. It is not just about assembly lines anymore. Assembly lines are easy to understand - replace a person doing a task with automation. But what about some device or process that exists in your business, that sits around waiting for a human to figure something out and then take action. A customer dwelling in the appliances section of a big box retailer for example. These types of problems are less straight forward to solve, but very much solvable in today’s world.
- Quality Improvement – A lot of advances are being made in this area. Vibration analysis of machines can be done to ensure that they are operating optimally or that articles which are machined were done proper. Video analytics exists that can ensure that articles that are created are correct, that the color is of the right hue for example, if it should be off, even just a little, or starting to degrade, a proactive alert can be made to replenish any ink or dye.
- New services and revenue streams are the rage for many businesses. This is creating as many businesses as it is transforming existing ones. For example, propane or CO2 gas: Instead of users buying the canisters and filling them, services now exist that monitor the usage and provide more gas when needed, pickup/drop off the canisters, in fact keep ownership of the canisters, and the user just pays for gas, which they always have available. This “as-a-service” model has been the catalyst that has been driving a lot of change in a wide range of industries.
- Safety is always of importance. Data can help detect driver behavior for example. Hard breaking, fast acceleration, fast turning, speeding, route deviations, poor shifting. Not only is this harmful to the vehicle, but it can endanger people, and businesses take it very seriously. Accelerometers, GPS, as well as telematics can be used to understand what is going on so that drivers can be held accountable.
- Preventative/Predictive Maintenance of machines, including vehicles today, are becoming more and more connected and software oriented. This opens up a wide range of possibilities. By examining telematics data, manufacturers are able to see when systems on the vehicle need attention. Poor gas mileage? Low pressure on a tire? These are likely related. The driver can be alerted to bring the vehicle for service.
- Differentiation is probably one of the most important reasons of all. Data is important because it allows you to differentiate your offering. As with many products, everything is getting better, cheaper in price and landscapes are becoming more competitive. Having an intelligent platform allows you a multitude of options for differentiating your brand.
There are many reasons why companies should be adopting a data strategy. Those who do not adopt a data strategy may be facing difficult times and ultimately fizzle out as they are consumed by those that do. IoT and software are a key part of any data strategy. It is important that companies get started as soon as possible, as there is much work to do in figuring out how data can best work for them.
Presidio has mature IoT, Software and Big Data practices that can help your company get off to the right start or address whatever challenges you may be facing. Let our teams work with you to help you understand the best way to accomplish your data goals.