How EMC is giving Lotus F1 a Big Data edge

For several years, businesses around the world have been implementing big data analytics to speed up their processes and improve productivity. Few have taken it as far as the Lotus F1 team.

Simplifying Big Data

The Lotus F1 team recently made the move to EMC’s V-Blocks server architecture, allowing them to use data in more simple and innovative ways. Anthony Smith, Lotus F1’s converged infrastructure specialist, explains: “We’ve had the V-blocks around 18 months now. We were using a set of different hardware from various vendors before. This has been one of the big changes for us.” Switching to one provider for everything helped to simplify the process. “We have one provider and one system that we know works together. We keep it as simple as possible so we have one company to contact if something goes wrong.”

Custom analytics

Using EMC tools has enabled the team to collect vast amounts of data and make significant changes and adjustments to their factory and processes.

“All the time the car runs we’re gathering data from it. It’s constantly streaming, even when it’s just in the garage. It’s producing around 60GB of data per weekend,” he said.

“Then we’re using that to analyse and refine the performance, and find improvements. We’re working to improve our competitiveness through the data.”

Testing and climate challenges

Given new limitations on the amount of real-world tests the team can do, the use of data analytics has become even more important in today’s racing environment.

“We’re not allowed to test during the year. We do three tests at the beginning of the year – that’s three weeks of testing – and then during the year we have four days in total throughout the year that we can test the car that isn’t a race weekend,” he said.

“This is why the simulation and the data analysis is so important because we can’t just decide to test it on the circuit. There are so many possibilities for the car and we’ve got to turn up at the circuit and pretty much know exactly how it’s going to be and what’s going to happen.”

The converged future

Moving forward, Smith wants to continue the team’s move towards a hyper converged infrastructure.

“We’re looking at whatever we can get our hands on. We’ve seen the whole virtualisation hybrid cloud infrastructure develop over the last few years and that’s helped us massively,” he said.

“We’re looking towards boosting our resilience. Looking at X-Racks VSpex Blue, hyper converged, the next step on.”

“If we can get more performance for less size, weight and power on the track that’s another advantage for us.”

To find out more you can read the full article on V3.co.uk

Study reveals: A highly demanding ‘Information Generation’

Are today’s youth our most demanding customers? We worked with Opinium to investigate and speak with 18-24 year olds in the UK & Ireland. What was unearthed was a lack of brand loyalty when providers can’t meet their needs.

Born in the era of the internet, todays ‘Information Generation’ is very much immersed in social media and the use of ‘smart’ phones. In our study they have shown demanding requirements over their suppliers across retail, financial services and technology, media and entertainment sectors. Control over personal data is their biggest concern: 54% of respondents suggest they’d switch providers if their current one didn’t give them control over their personal data.

Out of all three sectors surveyed, the financial services industry seems to face the greatest pressure when it comes to customer loyalty: 58% of 18-24 year olds would be willing to switch to a competitor if their current provider didn’t give them control over their personal data, marginally more than those that would switch if their provider suffered a data breach (53%), or didn’t provide mobile services e.g. via an App (40%).

Despite slightly stronger customer loyalty in the retail and technology, media and entertainment sector, the results still show a lack of loyalty to any one provider who can’t cater to the needs of today’s Information Generation. 57% in retail and 51% in tech, media and entertainment would switch suppliers, if their current provider didn’t give them control over their personal data. Moreover, 53% in retail would switch if their provider suffers a data breach compared with 47% in tech, media and entertainment.

The pressure facing businesses to cater for these consumers is becoming clear but how are they fairing in meeting those needs? In our next blog post we will a closer look at business leaders across 18 countries to find out how they are coping with fulfilling these demands.

Data Protection Day – Taking Data Protection Seriously

We recently saw 9th annual international Data Protection Day, a day to celebrate and raise awareness of the importance of protecting personal data. Raising awareness and vigilance in is key amongst both businesses and individuals as 2014 not only saw a record number of data breaches, with some very high profile targets such as the Sony hacks, but was also rife with controversy concerning who has access to our data following a range of snooping revelations.

Results from our global data protection index study at the end of last year showed that businesses in the UK are losing out on £10.5 billion per year due to downtime and data-loss, with only 53% acknowledging data protection as being critical to the success of the business and only 22% fully confident they could recover systems and data today from all platforms. This is more alarming considering that two-thirds of organisations suffered from either unplanned systems downtime or data loss over the past year, with the average data-loss being equivalent to about 7 million e-mails.

EMC_Data_Country_UK

Of course, data protection requires time and investment, and businesses can’t protect everything. However, this just makes it even more important as it becomes an issue of managing risk and data, increasing the need for leadership and accountability, and the need for businesses to take it seriously.

And it’s not just businesses that need to take care.

For example, did you know how easy it is for hackers to access private information using free public Wi-Fi networks? In an experiment, it took a security expert just minutes to access e-mail and bank accounts details, and the ability to track people’s movements. There are some very interesting technologies coming out to help with security, such as biometric keyboards that can recognise the typing patterns of individual users, but these technologies aren’t yet widely available, and people still need to be vigilant when it comes to their data and devices.

Protecting information for Individuals and businesses is becoming an ever increasing priority – and this year’s data protection day was a clear reminder of the need to remain vigilant. The time for a ‘wait and see’ policy has certainly passed and businesses need to protect themselves now in order to make sure they’re not the next newsworthy target. Consumers also have a responsibility to protect themselves too. It’s about time we all united to make data protection a clear priority this year.

Top Tech Trends in 2015

Here is our take on what will be the big tech trends for the UK in 2015.

Everything mobile

An ongoing trend is that of the mobile consumer. The expanding computing environment involving smartphones, tablets and wearables is making it vital for businesses to focus increasingly on adapting their services to the requirements of the mobile user. Consumers are always available, always online, and businesses that adapt and take their services to mobile devices will be able to create a direct relationship with them, with the potential to reach them as they are making their purchase decisions.

Doing this requires vast streams of data to be processed in real time, driving a massive increase in the adoption of technologies such as in-memory databases and flash storage. An industry that can benefit especially from this is the retail sector, however there is still work to be done for businesses to be able to process such large quantities of data in real-time as outlined in our recent Big Data League post on the retail sector. 2015 will be a year where we expect and hope to see this progressing much further.

Software defined

In the next decade, almost every industry will be re-defined by software, with much of that software being surfaced on mobile devices, smartphones and tablets, but also in cars, aircraft engines, running shoes and human beings!  Think about Tesla – an electric car, AND a software-defined car. Tesla has done to the driving experience what Apple did to the mobile phone experience – your car is now a software platform to innovate on top of. Companies that don’t innovate in this way won’t last long. Storage arrays, servers, networks and entire data centers will be run and managed by smart software in the future. It is crucial for businesses to move away from static to dynamic models in order to deal with the rapidly changing demands of digital business.

Big Data Analytics

In the world of big data analytics, it is the analytics part that will be the decisive factor for success in the future. It is this that enables businesses to filter the huge amounts of data coming from the ever-growing world of smart machines and the Internet of Things (IoT), a growth which won’t be slowing down anytime soon either. Further, analytics combined with embedded intelligence will increase the prevalence and further the development of context-rich systems, which can be alert to their surroundings and respond to them – such as context-aware security.

The above are three of the key trends that will affect businesses in the UK, but there are many more developments we expect to see in 2015. For example, 2015 may signal the beginning of the end of lectures, as the education sector is moving increasingly online and leading to better results.  Another influence will be the growing influx of millennials into the workforce, which is likely to affect the way businesses and IT departments operate.

What do you predict to be the big trends in 2015? Tweet the EMC team at @EMCUKI.

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

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.

The Manufacturing and Engineering Sector comes second in our Big Data League

The UK manufacturing and engineering industry is one of the fastest changing sectors, with new technologies such as simulation software, building information modeling and big data leading to major shifts in working practices and processes.

For this reason, it is especially important for the sector to stay on top of these new technologies, so as part of our Big Data League studies, manufacturing and engineering decision makers in the UK were questioned with regards to their big data prolificity, and revealed they are already having some success!

74% of respondents reported they have the technical knowledge in place to understand and maximise data insights, and a small majority (54%) of manufacturers said they already have big data analytics in some form in place.

Over half (57%) of respondents in this sector also see the potential to create new revenue streams as a driver for prioritising data analysis, with 61% highlighting that making processes more efficient and achieving savings was the biggest motivator, which is more than in any other sector. On top of that, many decision makers in this sector have access to sales data (72%) and product data (59%), also higher than in any other sector – earning the manufacturing and engineering industry second place in our Big Data League.

It’s great to see this sector really buying into and recognising the value of big data, but there is still more to be done. This sector scored the lowest compared to other sectors with regards to recruitment of additional technical staff with IT skills, and 41% highlighted that their IT infrastructure or organisation can’t move fast enough to make better use of data. A fifth of all respondents also reported that it can take days or even weeks to manipulate large data sets for analysis.

So where to next? With limited UK manufacturing growth, now is the time for businesses to review revenue opportunities which aren’t necessarily reliant on increased demand, such as data analytics based on customer feedback to refine products and services to drive growth and profitability. Investments in people and infrastructure are already making an impact on the sector, so the next step lies in focusing on the ability to speed up insights through the development of current systems or enabling faster development of applications.

You can read the full sector report here, or join in the conversation online using #BigDataLeague with @emcuki.

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 emc.im/bigdataleague, or take a look at the infographic below. You can also join in the discussion at #BigDataLeague or follow EMC on Twitter at @EMCUKI.


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.

Liverpool Women’s Hospital Solves Green and Scalability Challenges with New IT Provisions

Liverpool Women’s Hospital specialises in the health of women and their babies – both within the hospital and out in the community. Collectively the team represents some of the most outstanding expertise and experience in this field, as one of only two such specialist trusts in the UK and the largest women’s hospital of its kind in Europe. We caught up with Cathy O’Keeffe, Head of ICT, to discuss a recent IT project.

The hospital needed to address challenges around the green agenda, as well as ensure scalability and reliability for the business. Being a healthcare organisation, 99.9 per cent uptime was a key target.

Cathy describes some of the key considerations for their decision to implement a VNX unified storage solution with EMC, “We have a new vision for IT which focuses on records management, intelligent data, and technology. We looked to EMC to help us implement a strategy to support these priorities, whilst ensuring we also created a green, holistic programme.”

Before commencing the project the hospital discovered that it would take up to a day and half to provision new storage, which has now been reduced to 10-15 minutes through the VNX solution. The hospital has experienced further benefits through immediate data availability, which is backed up to a secondary datacenter.

In 2013 the hospital used 44 terabytes of data, double that of the previous year. As the hospital’s volume of data to increased exponentially, coupled with further digitisation across the health sector, it needed to significantly strengthen it’s IT infrastructure. Being able to provision more storage quickly without any downtime is providing the agility needed to meet the core business values. This is all against a backdrop of the need to cost effectively hold all records for 25 years.

As the organisation continues to grow, with four hospitals in the near vicinity opening maternity units next year, a reliable IT infrastructure is key to ensuring consistency in the delivery of healthcare across every site. The hospital is also planning to work more collaboratively with other hospitals in the area too. As Cathy explained, “In Liverpool, through the EMC kit, we have been able to deploy a Cheshire Med Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS) solution to provide a central database of PACS data and images, and patients’ results. It is run through two VNXs in two separate hospitals; so again, we deliver a safe and agile solution that delivers benefits to patients across the area.”

Cathy has found that the expectations from IT continue to increase. With the new solutions, they have found that everyone is able to do their job more efficiently, with no interruptions or any threat of unpredictable downtime. In terms of broader IT objectives, the team has also been able to further progress their virtualisation efforts, with 98% of IT now virtualised, compared to 70% prior to the VNX solution.