NHS DNA project ‘to fight cancer and genetic diseases’

James Petter, SVP and Country Manager, UK and Ireland, EMC, considers today’s genetics announcement:

“In the news today, details have been released about a new genetics project aiming to revolutionise medicine by unlocking the secrets about diseases in centres across England. NHS England medical director Prof Bruce Keogh has said “the impact of genomic medicine will be on the same scale as other British successes including the smallpox vaccine and IVF.”

This is fantastic news and certainly a step in the right direction for the future of healthcare in the UK. The genomes scheme is an exciting development in the move towards personalised medical treatment and predictive healthcare and also highlights how important information and technology are in supporting better healthcare.

Collaboration between private and public sector organisations, along with patient consent, is essential to the success of this ground breaking initiative to become a sustained part of the UK healthcare model, and it’s great to see that this is already central to the programme. This type of collaboration is also crucial to ensure that insights are fed back into drug development to allow for targeted medicines, as well as patient care.

Personalised care is not currently possible within the NHS due to both the lack of personal information available on patients in real time and the lack of big data to use in predictive analytics. Informatics, making use of genomic and other relevant data, can help to identify the factors that put the patient at high risk of developing a condition and help tackle it before it strikes. Monitoring patients using data can also dramatically improve care management and reduce costs for the NHS, which is why today’s announcement is so significant. We recently published a report which highlighted how the better use of data analytics and information would improve the healthcare sector efficiency by up to 60 percent, resulting in NHS savings of between £16.5 billion and £66 billion per year.

Looking ahead, the real benefit of today’s news will come when we reach the point where we can translate the findings of the genomics research and use them in practice. The time lag between medical research becoming medical practice can be as long as 17 years and it’s crucial that this figure is reduced substantially to allow the benefits from this ground-breaking research to be felt by the patients across the UK.”

IT as an enabler for business change – EMC Forum Survey

The trends of cloud, mobile, social and big data have fundamentally changed the expectations of consumers and end-users, affecting what is required and expected of IT departments. This much has become clear from our recent survey findings*, questioning IT decision makers in the UK for their perspective on IT’s role as an enabler of business change during the rise of these industry mega trends.

Jeremy Burton, President Products and Marketing, EMC Corporation, explains: “To remain relevant and competitive, businesses across every industry are reinventing their business models to handle unprecedented levels of access, interaction and scale. For this reason, IT finds itself back in the driver’s seat, morphing from cost center to a true catalyst for change through the use of cloud and big data technologies.”

Our survey results reflect this, as although creating efficiencies and reducing cost is still a priority for 60% of businesses, 70% of respondents see IT as a strategic business driver and 78% agree their organisation sees the increasing role of automation as critical to business growth.

Customer experience is a key factor, with 54% of respondents using cloud, mobile, social and big data technologies to improve customer experiences, and 53% seeing it as a top business priority. Organisations are making use of the technologies available to get their IT into shape by building new products and services (43%) and streamlining business functions and improving efficiencies (42%).

However, barriers will need to be overcome to achieve IT’s full potential, as 73% of respondents don’t believe IT has the skills to keep up in the next couple of years.

Take a look at more results from the survey below, and get in touch with any questions or comments on @emcuki.


IT is a Business Enabler

  • 70% of respondents in the UK report that their CXOs consider IT as a strategic lever to grow the business, now more than ever before.
  • The top three business priorities when implementing new technologies in organisations from the UK are: delivering savings and finding efficiencies (60%), enhancing the customer experience (53%) and automating processes (49%).
  • 78% of respondents in the UK agree that their organisation sees the increasing role of automation – such as software defined storage – as critical to business growth.

Taking advantage of the Mega Trends

  • 77% of respondents in the UK expect next-generation technologies such as mobile, social, cloud and big data to give their organisation a competitive advantage.
  • UK respondents say these new technologies will impact key aspects of the business, including: improving customer experience (54%), building new products and services (43%) and streamlining business functions and improving efficiencies (42%).
  • As businesses operate increasingly online today, 71% of respondents identified a need for joint public and private cloud services – hybrid cloud – as a means for greater agility and security.

Future of IT

  • 59% of respondents in the UK believe their organisation has the right level of skills and knowledge to complete business priorities successfully.
  • 73% believe it will be a challenge to have these skills keep up with the pace of IT innovation over the next 1-2 years
  • 70% of companies see IT as a business enabler, yet 43% of companies believe that spending for technology was outside IT’s control – indicating there is still work to do in gaining trust from decision makers.
  • 77% believe that the model IT department of the future will act as the in-house provider of on-demand services, including platform-as-a-service and public and private cloud.

*Collected during a non-mandatory questionnaire after completion of registration for the EMC Forum held in London on October 21, 2014. This research polled a total of 664 business and IT management and executives, technical architects, data scientists and storage/infrastructure managers from a range of UK businesses

Secretary of State for Scotland visits EMC Scottish HQ

Secretary of State for Scotland, Alistair Carmichael MP visited EMC’s offices in Almondvale Business Park, Livingston this week, taking the opportunity to meet staff and find out more about their work Scotland-wide with leading clients in sectors including retail, engineering, finance and oil and gas.

Hosting the visit was Martin Brown, EMC’s Scotland Country Manager. He says: “We were delighted to be able to welcome Mr Carmichael to our offices here in Livingston and all the team thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to meet him.”

Martin and Alistair spoke together at length, with the Scottish Secretary commenting on the phenomenal speed of technological change, and the extent to which technology is changing everything from medical intervention to the way we communicate with our children.

Martin outlined EMC’s successful operation in the Scottish marketplace, which has seen the company grow significantly over the last two years both in terms of staff and business. The wide-ranging discussion also covered financial support for ‘stage 2’ start-up companies, including potentially successful spin off businesses.

Martin added: “I also took the opportunity to articulate our views on future aspirations and the support EMC and others in the technology sector need from government to ensure that we keep pace with developments in the rest of the world moving forward.”

Restoring confidence in UK data protection technology is vital

Last week, EMC launched its UK findings of their global Data Protection Index study at a media roundtable event on the 38th floor of the Gherkin. It was revealed that in the UK, £10.5 billion was lost per year due to downtime and data loss. In addition, 67% of organisations reported they had suffered disruption, up from 78% since the last study in 2011, while the average disruption causes 700GB of data loss – a significant amount that cannot be ignored.

Whilst up in the clouds, Chris Ratcliffe, SVP EMC Advanced Software Division, EMC and Kelly Brown, Senior Director DPAD Marketing Global, EMC discussed the effect on businesses of not having a secure data protection strategy in place. The study found that although, 25 hours was lost on average in the last year due to unplanned downtime, organisations are still spending less of their budget on recovery and data protection.

Data Protection Index

“If you don’t have a protection strategy in place, you may find that you don’t have the data you want to run things like analytics, business intelligence and Big Data”, says Kelly Brown. “IT can’t always be ‘sexy’; sometimes it has to focus on the slightly more practical side of what technology can do, in order to support the business, protect it from data loss and open up new revenue opportunities.”

The study looked at 24 different countries around the world and ranked them in order of their maturity with regards to data protection capabilities. The UK features very much in the middle of the rank, lagging behind the USA, China and the Netherlands.

John Bland, MD UK Sales at SCC concluded by looking at the emotional effect and executive behavior patterns behind data protection. He focused on the CIO agenda and explained that because data protection has become so integrated with other elements on the board agenda, the question becomes how you roll it into one business conversation.  “The CIO is becoming increasingly marginalized in the organisation as few people want to take the responsibility of ‘owning’ the company’s data” said Bland. “It won’t be long before Chief Digital Officers and the marketing teams are spending more on IT than their own IT department, without understanding the need to protect the data they are trying to work with.”

The rise in popularity of the cloud as a storage device and the use of mobile devices by company employees, mean data protection and back up is as big of an issue today as it ever was. The risk becomes greater as companies generate and store more and more data, and without a backup solution in place, businesses could be in real trouble should problems arise.

The audience heard how UK businesses need to increase their confidence in their own systems, but this can be tricky if there are delays to hardware upgrades, resulting in infrastructure that is more likely to fail. It’s startling that in this era, 78% of UK organisations are not confident that they can fully recover after a disruption. As budgets become tighter and tighter, delays in refreshing technology both at a hardware and software layer, only serves to further expose the risk of data loss.

Barely a day goes by without hacking and cybercrime filling the news agenda, so businesses are starting to invest in strategies and perimeters that can be put in place for protection. The same emphasis needs to be put into backup solutions so that if an attack were to break the perimeter, the company would have the effective data protection technologies in position to avoid too much loose of data or information.

Unfortunately the reality is probably more extreme than the results suggest, and whilst the number of data loss incidents is decreasing overall from 2011, the volume of data loss is growing exponentially and action needs to be taken quickly before the situation gets out of control.

The Autumn Statement under review

Ian Heath, District Manager, EMC considers the announcements from the Autumn Statement:

Yesterday’s Autumn Statement has provided a range of measures to support our public sector services, something which we would consider a hugely positive step.

Investment in Healthcare

George Osborne announced an additional £2 billion will be committed to the NHS, with £1 billion of the total ring-fenced for a GP fund targeted with joining up services through technology. We have long advocated driving better patient care through the application of technology and the data insights afforded by it. Today’s announcement is a sensible step towards this goal. However, it is not clear exactly how these changes will be funded, and this investment will only skim the surface of the overall NHS funding gap. In addition further investment in the health service will not guarantee better patient outcomes on its own. There are significant saving opportunities here, and to improve patient care through personalised treatment aided by technology, this needs to be incorporated into any healthcare strategies going forward.

Recognising the Big Data Opportunity

The Autumn Statement has also revealed the government intends to invest £113 million in a big data facility at the Hartree Centre in the North West of England, which will enable non-computer specialists to gain insights from big data in order to enhance and design products, services and manufacturing processes. This is alongside the London-based £42 million Alan Turing Centre, which will undertake new research into ways of collecting, organising and analysing big data. It’s fantastic to see such investment in big data across the UK and looking at specific industries where data supported insights can have a significant impact. Big data has the power to transform how services are delivered, particularly enabling closer consumer personalisation. Providers can also use data insights to make significant cost savings through improved processes, and it’s encouraging to see the government investing in this space. Similarly, we are pleased to see the government has recognised the role technology has had in creating efficiencies in the Criminal Justice Service and we are keen to join the discussion around how these learnings can be applied to other public services.

Positive Steps, but We’re Not There Yet

Though these are positive steps in the right direction, sadly today’s announcements are likely to only combat a minimal proportion of the problems our public sector is facing during a period of continued austerity, the inability to be agile due to locked-in technology contracts and missed opportunities for innovation. Yet the measures around investing in big data and in joining up healthcare services using technology are the type of commitments we have been calling for from government. What’s needed beyond this is a change in culture, led from the top, to put technology at the heart of future developments in order to deliver the efficiencies and innovation required.

Unlocking the next wave of growth in the retail sector

The retail industry is without doubt facing one of its most challenging periods. Harnessing customer insights to deliver operational value, streamlining operational processes, working to offer greater choice and convenience to customers whilst managing the growth of online shopping, all place huge pressure on organisations’ capabilities. Intense competition has caused a scramble to find efficient and effective ways to run retail businesses which meet demand and deliver a compelling customer experience, whether online or in-store.

Our research found that almost two thirds of decision makers in the retail industry feel better use of customer insights, trend data and information in and around their business will be key to unlocking the next wave of growth for their organisation. Furthermore, 74% recognise that transforming their organisational model to meet customer requirements will also play a fundamental role in preparing the business for growth.

This view from the top demonstrates how, despite a challenging environment, making sense of data to drive new business opportunities is fundamental to long-term success, and requires clear leadership and vision.

With businesses turning to big data to provide revenue opportunities and uncover new customer insights, the level of technology infrastructure required to support this can be complex and involve rethinking of the infrastructure, the tools and systems that IT has relied on for so many years. This change in complexity is something the retail industry is getting to grips with: 56% of respondents felt their organisation already has the infrastructure in place to embrace big data analytics, and just 2% felt they didn’t.

Yet while the majority feels the necessary infrastructure is in place, there are questions over the speed at which organisations can move and manipulate large and/or complex data sets for analysis. The bulk of respondents (44%) feel the analysis of large data sets could be done in hours, rather than the minority of 17% who feel it could be done in minutes and seconds, demonstrates the need for investments to be made which deliver real-time analysis capabilities.

In an increasingly digital world, companies can use big data to create successful customer loyalty and retention programs and personalise consumer interactions in meaningful ways, both of which are crucial to a strong bottom-line performance. However, doing this means analysing and making sense of this data in seconds and minute, not hours and days. This is where the next big opportunity lies for the retail sector to unlock the next wave of growth.

You can find the full report here, or join in the conversation on Twitter with @emcuki using #BigDataLeague.