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

How can we convince patients their data is safe?

Following news of patient data being sold, James Norman, UK Public Sector CIO, EMC, considers what’s required to change the perception of data use in healthcare.

This week’s news that medical records have been sold following data capture when claiming insurance or purchasing holidays or medical products is concerning to anyone who wants more transparency as to how their data is going to used. Equally, the news that NHS patient details have been sold after prescriptions were purchased online is hugely damaging to the data discussion in the healthcare sector. The reality is that there are huge opportunities for improving patient care and driving efficiencies in healthcare through better use of data, but stories such as these are damaging patient confidence and their likelihood to share data in the future.

Within the healthcare sector, data can be used to create a more predictive and personalised healthcare model; contributing significantly to medical research and a more positive patient experience.

Ultimately this can shift the NHS from an illness to a wellness model.

Informatics can now identify the risk 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. A recent report from EMC and Volterra highlighted the need for acceleration in the uptake of data analytics techniques and technologies to drive £16bn or more in efficiency savings to plug the NHS funding gap.

With all these potential benefits available to the healthcare sector, it’s crucial the discussion isn’t shut down before it’s even begun. It’s essential consumers understand how data can be used to benefit them and the wider population, rather than feeling as though their data is being used solely to aid sales and increase insurance premiums. As part of this, it’s crucial the government scrutinise legislation to ensure patient data is protected and to ensure a greater transparency around how data is being used in healthcare. The major challenge sits in providing proof points for data, leading to greater good and encouraging best practice across the entire healthcare sector.

The future of healthcare will require the right people to have access to patient’s data, with their consent, allowing them to provide appropriate care based on a full understanding of the patient’s history. This can drive real change in how we are able to predict and tackle health problems across the population, particularly around chronic diseases, and drive an efficient and effective health service in the UK.

Until that point, it’s down to the government and industry to tackle the data challenge together and convince patients that giving access to some of their personal data will be beneficial to the health of the nation and, ultimately, their own.

 

The future of digital: A deep-dive into party manifestos – Labour and Liberal

With the May elections looming, predictions are in full swing as to how technology and digital transformation would develop under each political party. In a previous post we looked at the work the Conservative Party has done and their intentions for the future, but what do the other parties have in store?

Digitisation under the Labour Party

Labour has shown an increasing interest in digital issues in recent months. For example, in November, the Shadow Cabinet Office Minister Chi Onwurah published details of her party’s Digital Government Review.

Like the conservatives, Labour would broadly-speaking continue much of the current agenda, including work with the Government Digital Services (GDS) to digitise public services, making smarter use of data and reforming procurement. Labour also favours the use of common architectures based on open standards, opening up APIs and developing more agile and innovative solutions.

However, there are some noteworthy changes. Most importantly, Labour wants to focus on trust, transparency and security, particularly in relation to the use of citizen data. The party intends to publish a review of data sharing and privacy within 90 days of entering office, providing citizens with more information and control over their data. Citizens’ ownership of their own data will be more explicit and new limits will restrict the government’s ability to pass data on to third parties for commercial gain without their consent.

Labour wishes to emphasise digital inclusion and skills, for citizens and within the public sector. From a citizen perspective, digital services would be designed to be accessible by all members of society, including the most excluded and disadvantaged. Investment would be made in boosting citizens’ digital skills to ensure everyone is able to use digital services. To focus on the most difficult social problems rather than cost reduction, Labour wants to apply a ‘social benefits test’ to new digital services.

This would apply equally to local and central government, and Labour would do more to encourage local authorities to collaborate and develop shared services. For the public sector, leadership and skills are to be a higher priority, and government transformation a Cabinet level priority. Finally, Labour aims to provide more training to improve digital skills throughout the civil service.

The Liberal Democrats’ test the tech waters

Of the three main parties, the Liberal Democrats have said the least about applying technology to transform the public sector. A handful of figures, notably Julian Huppert and Lord Wallace of Saltaire, are getting more engaged in the digital revolution and have recently helped their party to launch an Entrepreneurs Network to engage with the tech sector and help influence the development of Liberal Democrat policy. Like Labour, the party’s starting point is to place greater emphasis on digital inclusion and the protection of individual rights in areas like data sharing, rather than simply aiming for cost savings.

Having looked at all three parties’ policies it’s clear there is a considerable amount of consensus over the digital agenda. This is hardly surprising given that all three parties are committed to delivering significant spending cuts in the next Parliament, £24.9bn by the Conservatives, £5.2bn by Labour and £7.9bn by the Lib Dems. Regardless of the make-up of the next government, it will need to think digital, build on the progress achieved to date and accelerate the pace of transformation to delivery services more efficiently to meet citizens’ rising expectations.

The future of digital: A deep-dive into party manifestos – the Conservatives

You’ve probably heard – you may even have begun to tire of the wall to wall coverage – but on Thursday 7th May, Britain will go to the polls to vote for the next government.

Thanks to the rise of UKIP, the SNP and the Greens, and the vagaries of the first-past-the-post voting system, the result is almost impossible to predict. The potential outcomes range from majority governments for either the Conservatives or Labour (albeit unlikely, based on current polling), to various flavours of coalition or minority government, depending on the final tally of seats for each party.

This sounds like a recipe for policy paralysis. However, when it comes to technology and digital transformation of the public sector, there is good reason to think that the work begun by the present government will largely continue.

The Conservative Government – a Digital Pledge

The Conservative-led coalition entered office pledging to be the most digital government ever. Under the leadership of Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office has driven Whitehall savings of more than £14.5 billion since 2010. Renegotiating contracts with large IT suppliers and adopting open source and cloud-based solutions have made a major contribution to this.

Another key reform has been the Government Digital Service (GDS), which has revolutionised the way government delivers citizen services. By bringing in outside talent, and focusing on user needs and good design principles, GDS has been able to transform a wide range of services people use every day. Citizens can now register to vote, renew a patent, apply for carer’s allowance, and even book a prison visit, using online processes as straightforward as anything produced by the likes of Google or Amazon.

Continuing the Digital Revolution

At the Autumn Statement in December, the Government shared the first details of its plans to continue the digital revolution after the election. The use of cloud-based services and digitisation will increase, but instead of simply putting services online, the goal is to increase digital uptake of services to 90% by 2020 by developing new cross-government platforms to deliver payments, track applications (e.g. for a driving license or passport), and book appointments. To encourage private sector innovation, all new digital services will be available via an open Application Programming Interface (API) as well as a web browser, and more data sets will be opened up. Many of these ideas were first proposed by Policy Exchange’s Tech Manifesto for government, which EMC supported.

If the Conservatives intend to go further and faster on government transformation, what of the other two main parties? Watch out for our next blog post, which will look at Labour and the Liberal Democrats, and what they have in store for tech.

Could wearables save A&E?

James Norman, former Royal Liverpool & Broadgreen Hospital director and current healthcare director at EMC, looks at whether wearable devices could be the answer to the looming A&E crisis.

As the number of A&E admissions continues to rise, fuelled by chronic illness and an ageing population, the NHS is under ever increasing pressure to keep up with demand. Recently released figures show that the last three months of 2014 saw the worst A&E waits for a decade, while delays faced by ambulances when they arrived at A&E doubled over the past year. A major part of this burden comes from the emergency re-admissions that take place each year, a number the NHS itself estimated to be as high as 600,000 in 2011.

If we are going to help reduce the pressure on our overstretched emergency departments, we need to find new ways of monitoring patients to ensure that their treatment is effective and to reduce the risk of exacerbations and emergency admissions. This year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas showcased a multitude of wearable technology. Whilst it’s still early days for the wearables market, these devices provide a simple method of tracking heart rate, body temperature, respiration, posture and activity levels in general. There are also models in development that will soon be able to track blood oxygen levels and measure blood pressure. The data captured by these devices can drive proactive monitoring and care, providing early warning if a discharged patient is at risk and giving medics the ability to recall them through non-A&E routes.

In a recent report, EMC and Volterra investigated how a more joined up approach to using information insights and opportunities in ehealth could deliver a Wellness Model, aimed at empowering individuals to have more control over their own lifestyles and care as well as making the healthcare sector more efficient. The study demonstrated that the use of data analytics could reduce re-admission costs by tens of millions each year, and have a knock-on effect on the quality of patient care. However, this kind of model can only be achieved through collaboration and sharing of information.

A serious gap currently exists between the NHS and other industries in the use of data analytics and technology. The lack of willingness to embrace electronic records, predictive analytics, collaboration and effective monitoring of patient and treatment outcomes, in addition to personalised care, is leading to failures and financial inefficiencies that are unsustainable in the long-term. With wearables monitoring and recording our vital signs, data analytics could lead to increased treatment effectiveness through risk stratification at an individual level and disease prevention through identification of risk factors.

A Year of Financial Uncertainty

Said Tabet, Governance, Risk and Compliance Strategy lead at EMC asks, as we head into 2015, how can financial institutions reduce their risk?

Despite news that employment figures are still increasing, UK retail spend has bounced back and broader trends such as house sales continue to maintain a steady rhythm, so it may appear externally that the market is more stable than it has been for a number of years. Though this is true to an extent, stress tests from last month, which a number of UK institutions failed or came close to failing, along with the government targeting banks in the recent Autumn Statement, it’s safe to say that we’re not on even ground yet.

As we head into 2015, financial organisations need to get their ships in order and, in my opinion, this all centres around data and understanding risk. Here are my key themes for consideration as we go into next year:

  • Data: How much, at what cost and what quality?
    Digital pound - in textFinancial institutions of all sizes are looking to consume more and more data. While this is a general trend with ‘big data’, the use of “smart data” especially will be crucial in 2015. Essentially this takes into account that you need the right data at the right time (context) and relevant data (semantics) that is secure in order to succeed. Improving the productivity and performance of financial products will require discipline at the data level and we are moving more and more towards granular data. Financial institutions must be prepared for this and have measures in place to store, access and understand their data, in real-time.
  • Risk-based approach, still the way to go?
    Banks will continue to adopt a risk-based approach but as the markets start to improve, new innovations push the boundaries and new services emerge, we are going to see more and more of a balanced approach. This is all with the goal to satisfy shareholder requirements while being compliant. In a way, this model will help build a new view of compliance costs as an investment for the future of business. This is also emphasised by the need to develop and transform business processes. Loss of productivity can be measured through big data analytics and the ability to have near real-time relevant data and metadata will support this.
  • Risk will be managed at all levels and integrated with key data and metadata
    Risk is no longer about reporting. Risk management intelligence will be supported with better integration globally, particularly within large firms. The market as a whole is trying to better understand risk and prepare for potential pitfalls in the future, as demonstrated by recent stress tests. What’s concerning is that UK institutions are still falling short of industry expectations and measures, something which must be tackled, and quickly. There is a role for technology here, in ensuring that processes and access are allocated effectively.

2015 has the potential to be a crossroads for the UK economy. With likely changes in interest rates, along with possible changes in government, financial institutions need to be prepared for whatever the future may hold. Now is the time to put in place measures to ensure risk and data are prioritised.

 

 

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.

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.”

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.”

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.