How did the Financial Services Sector fare in the Big Data League?

We recently shared the results of our Big Data League study with IDC, which showed that although most businesses recognise the value of big data analytics for their business, many lack the skills or IT infrastructure to make things happen. This research also looked at five sectors individually, testing their ‘big data readiness’. In this post we’ll take a look at the results for the Financial Services (FS) Sector, which shockingly scored lowest across the board.

The sector as a whole showed both a lack of data insights at speed and a lack of data prioritisations for the future. Over half of FS decision makers did recognise the potential to drive revenue streams and better understand customers through use of big data, but at the same time just under half revealed their IT infrastructure simply wasn’t up to the task. See below for some of the highlights:

  • 44% of FS decision makers suggested their IT infrastructure can’t move fast enough to enable the business to make better use of data
  • FS leaders have the lowest concerns around customer backlash over use of data, with only 15% marking it out as a barrier
  • 56% of businesses are recruiting staff with the technical skills to ensure that they have the right data skills
  • 34% are preparing to embrace big data analytics and are working with IT to deploy currently
  • For 19% of financial services organisations, it takes 1-3 days to prototype or build data analysis applications, with a further 39% highlighting a delay of a few weeks

These results came as quite the shock because the FS industry is generally known for aiming to be ahead of the game when it comes to technology – a faster trading platform, lower latency transactions or better financial modelling means a competitive edge. So what has gone wrong?

It seems that with the financial crisis we’ve seen over recent years and attempted reforms to improve the transparency and understanding of risk exposure in FS, the sector is struggling to align its infrastructure, skills and leadership with the opportunities of big data. As it was a self-assessment survey, it’s also possible respondents from the FS sector were harsher on themselves than others, as they are typically under greater scrutiny than any other sector. However, the findings still clearly show the sector is falling behind.

There is a need for action in the industry to embrace the big data revolution, only then will longer term revenue streams and cost saving opportunities start to become reality.

Read the full sector report here, with further insights on what is happening in the sector, and join in the conversation on Twitter using #BigDataLeague with @emcuki.

EMC – a great place to work!

We’ve always thought so, but now it’s official… we’re delighted to announce EMC is a great place to work!

Yesterday EMC was announced as 18th on the “World’s Best Multinational Workplaces” list. This is a first for EMC, and a huge honour, recognising the career opportunities, flexible working environment based on trust and the collaborative, results-based culture. EMC had previously been announced one of the best places to work in the UK and in Europe.

The list, compiled by the Great Place to Work Institute, an internationally recognised global research firm, ranks the top 25 global companies to work for based on their credibility, fairness, respect, pride and cameraderie.

As China Gorman, CEO, Great Place Work, says: “Earning a place among this year’s World’s Best Multinational Workplaces is a great achievement. These organisations are creating a consistent, high-trust culture around the world. This is good for their employees, for their business prospects and for our global society.”

According to David Goulden, CEO, EMC Information Infrastructure: “To thrive in our competitive, rapidly changing industry, I’ve asked our employees to think of EMC as a people company in the technology business. All of our success with our products, our services and our customers begins with EMC people doing what they do best.  By maintaining a workplace environment based on collaboration, teamwork and trust, and by providing opportunities for career growth, we have cultivated a winning culture.  We are honored to be recognised as a World’s Best Workplace.  It is an affirmation of all we have done and an inspiration for the work we will continue to do together.”

As David Goulden says, the announcement is a great affirmation of the work we have been doing to give more to our employees, including initiatives such as EMC Gives Back, EMC’s efforts to promote and enable employees’ charitable volunteering,  and EMC Innovation Roadmap, an annual competition focused on soliciting innovative solutions to EMC’s most pressing business opportunities.

We want to thank all EMC employees who took part – it’s an honour to be given this accolade and we couldn’t have done it without you.

If you’re interested to learn more about what EMC is like as a place to work, watch this short video or visit our careers page. You can also follow us @EMCUKI for updates.

Who’s leading the Big Data League?

 “In God we trust. All others must bring data.” – W. Edwards Deming, statistician, professor, author, lecturer, and consultant
Data is everywhere. The UK boasts 217 exabytes of it to be precise according to this year’s Digital Universe research by EMC and IDC, and this is only set to increase, looking to reach 1,311 exabytes by 2020! This data holds a lot of valuable information, especially for businesses, if only they can get to it.Today we have launched our Big Data League, testing business readiness when it comes to big data. On behalf of EMC, Opinium Research questioned 300 business and technical decisions makers in financial services, retail, IT, telecoms and media, manufacturing and the public sector, and found that despite recognition of the big data opportunity, businesses in all sectors are struggling with skills and infrastructure challenges.Results showed that 60% of organisations believe better use of customer insights, trend data and information in and around their business will be the key to unlocking the next wave of growth, however 45% have no data analytics platform experience and 62% are without the skills to understand ethical, responsible and compliant use of customer data! IT infrastructure limitations are also a key issue when it comes to holding companies back.

The self-assessment of ‘big data readiness’, which delivered an aggregate ‘score’ based on the culture and leadership, skills and infrastructure, also demonstrated much room for improvement with only 26% of organisations saying they are able to manipulate large and/or complex data sets for analysis within minutes, and only 38% of businesses recruiting data scientists or business intelligence experts.

“We’re past the point where people can write off the potential for and use of data as the responsibility of IT or an operational silo”, says James Petter, Vice President and Managing Director, UK & Ireland, EMC Corporation. “It has to be a strategic focus for the business if we are to successfully deliver a new era of accelerated growth in an uncertain, hyper-competitive market context. It’s great to see that the majority of businesses across all sectors are embracing big data analytics of some kind, but there’s clearly a long way to go before all businesses are equipped with the right skills, leadership and IT infrastructure to drive real change and new opportunities in their markets. Now is the time for businesses to invest in their people and processes to make sure that they don’t get left behind.”

Steve Duplessie, Founder and Senior Analyst, Enterprise Strategy Group Inc. adds: “We know empirically that 20% of organisations feel they have a ‘problematic shortage of existing skills’ in the area of Business Intelligence and Analytics.  We also know that companies less than 10 years old are reaping significantly more value from analytics than their older counterparts.  Traditional companies need to get moving faster in the analytics uptake, or the gaps are going to widen.”

To find out more about these research findings and the impact on businesses, visit, or take a look at the infographic below. You can also join in the discussion at #BigDataLeague or follow EMC on Twitter at @EMCUKI.

Could Big Data be your boss one day?

You don’t have to look far to hear about the promise of big data. Big data enables us to churn through information at incredible speed and provide calculated outputs, uninfluenced by external factors.

We humans on the other hand are not quite so efficient in our decision-making. It may be tough to admit sometimes, but humans are inherently flawed in the way they make decisions. We are influenced by our mood and surroundings, by the way something is phrased, by the opinions of other people and so much more.

By using big data to help inform our decisions however we can start to free ourselves from these limitations. One way in which we are using this technology to help us make better decisions is in the field of machine learning – whereby systems are created that can actually learn from data, rather than just follow instructions. This machine learning intelligence, or learning cognitive agent, can solve problems, interpret context and crucially, learn from information and experiences to draw calculated conclusions. It is able to not only process what is being said, but also the meaning of what is said.

What’s more, these virtual, cognitive agents are already working their way up the pecking order in companies too, with an algorithm recently being appointed to the board of directors of a Hong Kong based venture capital company, where it now has a say in the company’s investments. Other companies too are starting to look to the virtual realms to find the newest addition to their boards, which would be able to use big data analytics and algorithms to contribute to company strategy.

Surely, with an intelligence now matching that of humans, and a processing capacity way beyond anything any individual can dream to achieve, it’s just a matter of time before virtual agents take over completely? Could big data really be our boss one day?

The answer, fortunately for humans, is an emphatic no! Though big data can offer huge benefits, increase efficiencies and save costs, we still have invaluable skills that big data doesn’t. What limits us might even be the very thing that we’ll always have over technology: we’re human. This means we have the ability to use our intuition and think beyond an algorithm. And that’s not all – our emotional intelligence allows us to deal with people in a way that technology simply is not able to, at least not yet.

Big data has the ability to benefit people and businesses all over the world and undeniably can help us make significantly better decisions, but the key thing to remember is that without the people to analyse, interpret and give real-life meaning to it, big data is, well, just data.

Wasps enter the Ricoh Arena with EMC

This week we are delighted to announce that EMC is the new official sponsor of Premiership Rugby Club Wasps. The club has also announced that it has become the joint owner of one of Europe’s largest multi-purpose venues, the Ricoh Arena.

The partnership with EMC is a development that will help to secure a bright future for the club. James Petter, Senior Vice President and MD UK & Ireland at EMC, comments: “This is clearly an exciting time for Wasps and EMC is privileged to be part of it. The team has a very clear strategy for success and we are elated to be working with them moving forward. Our expertise in data is going to contribute in to the success of Wasps both on and off the field and we can’t wait to get started.”

The joint ownership of the Ricoh arena is also an exciting development for the club as, by acquiring a thriving and sustainable business, Wasps become the highest turnover rugby club in the premiership, offering the opportunity for to achieve long-term stability and success.

If you’d like to read more about the announcements, you can find the press release on the website. Allez Wasps!

How much data do people actually give away?

James Petter, Vice President and Country Manager for the UK and Ireland, EMC shares his thoughts on digital privacy. JP at Techmanifesto - square

2014 is stacking up to be a seminal year in online privacy. Fuelled by the debate in to government and business access to citizen information, the Information Commissioner’s Office recently revealed a 7.1 percent increase in the number of data complaints made between 2013 and 2014. It has also been the year that Edward Snowden urged people to upgrade their security measures in order to protect confidentiality; and earlier this year, the introduction of the “right to be forgotten” ruling stated that Google must delete inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant data from its search results when a member of the public requests it.

I recently submitted evidence to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee as part of its inquiry into social media data and real time analytics. As part of this, I discussed the topic of privacy and how I believe the debate has evolved. We recently commissioned some research to better understand consumer perception around privacy and the importance of protecting individuals against the benefits of convenient online commerce and social media. The study found that there was a global divergence of views around transparency, fairness, safe online behaviour and trustworthy use of personal data. In the UK specifically, 59 percent of respondents felt that they have less privacy now, compared to a year ago, whilst 52 percent reported that they have experienced a data breach.

The study suggests that people want the convenience and benefits of this fast moving technological world we live in, but without sacrificing privacy. Three distinct, yet intertwined privacy paradoxes emerged, each with powerful implications for consumers, businesses and technology providers as they consider the issue of digital privacy.

Paradox One: “We want it all”

Although people are using digital technology more frequently and place considerable value on the benefits offered, few say they are willing to trade their privacy for these benefits. Consumers in the UK were among the least willing (12th out of 15 countries) to sacrifice privacy for the benefits and convenience offered by technology, while people in India and China were much more inclined to share information in exchange for useful technology and services.

Paradox Two: “Take no Action”

While more than half of consumers have experienced a data breach where their privacy was potentially compromised, they are not taking basic measures to protect their information, such as changing passwords regularly and using password protection on mobile devices. Most believe it is the responsibility of the government, not the individual, to protect consumers’ privacy through the creation of laws and regulations. Further to this, there is a widespread lack of confidence in the organisations charged with protecting privacy, whether they are businesses or governments. With this pervasive mistrust in the organisations that are handling consumer data, there is a need for these institutions to take steps to improve internal processes and public perception around what they’re doing to protect privacy.

Paradox Three: “Social Sharing”

It is not new news that social media has exploded in popularity over the last few years and an overwhelming majority of consumers are actively sharing information via social media channels. More than 400 million Tweets were shared daily in 2012 and more than one billion share personal information on Facebook. 84 percent of consumers claim they don’t like anyone knowing anything about them or their habits, unless they make a decision themselves to share that information.

For consumers, the realisation that everyone is vulnerable hopefully reinforces the importance of increasing their awareness of privacy issues and to take personal action to protect their own privacy. For businesses, the imperative is to understand how varied customer perception is. Consumers are likely to engage in more online activities with institutions that demonstrate greater privacy protections – something that businesses and governments must not ignore. However, consumers need to also understand that using citizen data isn’t immediately insidious. The Office for National Statistics makes use of hundreds of data sets to guide and inform government decision making, and is planning to expand this in the future. Big data automates, creates efficiencies and offers huge potential to deliver significant economic and social benefits, such as higher growth, the next generation of public services, and billions in government efficiency savings.

All members of society – technologists, government, and citizens – can, and should, be more bullish about making this positive case for big data and analytics. All of us should do everything possible to increase levels of awareness and understanding in order to realise these benefits while continuing to protect individual rights and privacy. The rise in cloud computing and the use of big data to address society’s most urgent challenges will be accelerated with the protection of information assets and trust in the cloud. The winners and losers will be determined by those that demonstrate the most relevant and practical privacy practices to ensure the safety of data. It’s great to see that this issue is being considered by government, but it’s down to all of us to protect our privacy.