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

Can Data Science Unlock the Secrets of the Morecambe Missile?

Yesterday John McGuinness, aka the ‘Morecambe Missile’, set a new lap record for electric bikes at the Isle of Man TT to grab a record-breaking 22nd win on this track.

This amazing feat seals the Missile’s reputation even further as a truly legendary motorcycle racer. But what is it that makes him so successful?

Earlier this year, EMC ran two competitions to answer this question by outfitting John’s bike and suit with an array of sensors as John rode round the Circuit Monteblanco in Spain. EMC captured over 700,000 rows of performance, biometric and mechanical data, including engine RPM, lean angle, g-force, pulse and respiration.

Connecting sensors to the bike

The data was then hosted on a CrowdANALYTIX platform in an open competition where over 750 data-enthusiasts analysed the data in an attempt to uncover the most compelling insights into why John is so fast.

The first winner, Stefan Jol, from a leading UK radio group, was able to show which stages of the race had the most impact on overall performance, and Charlotte Wickham, assistant Professor of Statistics at Oregon State University, demonstrated the impact of differences in cornering. Take a look at the full story here to learn more about the winning insights.

The bike

The same data capture has now been repeated at the Isle of Man TT races with a more elaborate array of sensors to capture even more data. Jonathan Martin, CMO, EMC says: “We were really excited to see how big data can provide revealing new insights about someone like John McGuinness, and have been thrilled with the interest shown in this project from the data science and motorcycling communities around the world. A project like this has never been undertaken before, and is already proving some interesting and significant observations. We are gaining a better understanding of what makes extreme athletes like John perform at such a superior level, but also through big data analytics we are gaining deep insights into how we can make the sport of motorcycle racing safer.”

The project has been documented in a film, the trailer of which can be found at the first link on this microsite here – and it’s well worth a watch: http://www.emc.com/microsites/morecambe-missile/index.htm. It will be released in full later this year.

John McGuinness riding

Can today’s businesses meet the needs of our Information Generation?

In our previous blog post we looked at the needs of our ‘Information Generation’ and unearthed increasing demands on our data. But, how are businesses fairing to adapt to those needs? To find out, we asked 3,600 Director-to-C-Suite business leaders across 18 countries, how technology is changing their businesses and how they are preparing for the future.

It’s no surprise that 96% of respondents believe that technology has fundamentally changed the rules of business and 93% report that these technology advancements are resetting customer expectations. The report revealed that customer expectations are faster access to services, 24/7 and “everywhere” access and connectivity, access on more devices, and a more unique personalised experience.

Within this study, business leaders agreed that transformation is critical and identified five “make or break” business attributes, all of which have information at their core:

1. Predictively spot new opportunities in markets

2. Demonstrate transparency and trust

3. Innovate in agile ways

4. Deliver unique and personalised experiences

5. Operate in real time

While business leaders agree these attributes are a high priority, only very few address them very well. Only 9% of global businesses innovate in an agile way and only 11% deliver a personalised experience.

The challenges don’t end here. Soon, every element of life will be data-driven and we will see value shifting from products and services to the information they generate. Despite the growing importance of data, nearly 50% of respondents admit to not knowing how to get value from their data and only 24% consider themselves “very good” at turning data into useful insights and information.

The pressure facing businesses is growing and most are struggling to embrace the critical attributes that would make a difference. Take our online survey to see how you compare and find out more about our Information Generation research online.

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 – 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.

Joining (X-) Forces to Tackle the UK IT Skills Shortage

The UK needs to tackle its digital skills shortage in order to prevent falling behind in new digital era; that much was clear from the House of Lords Digital Skills Committee report released this week. The lack of trained IT professionals is becoming a major threat, not just for our industry but also impacting corporate economic recovery and growth within the UK.

To tackle this shortage, EMC has teamed up with social enterprise X-Forces, to provide free training to up to 20 military leavers. These are typically highly motivated individuals with very specialist technical skills, so they have a lot to offer in an industry with growing skills shortages. Backed by an investment of £250,000, this military leavers program will target all types of military personnel with leadership and technical backgrounds.

Over the course of seven weeks and with support from EMC staff, the leavers will be given lab and online training covering IT architecture and design, storage solutions, data protection and more. This will equip the participants with the necessary skills to perform in a range of different roles – either at EMC or within a company from our channel partner networks. For trainees who’d like to start their own business, X-Forces will provide funding and guidance to get them started. On top of that, mentoring support from ex-military staff will be available to the trainees at all times.

We’re really excited about this initiative, and as Ren Kapur, CEO and Founder of X-Forces, explains, it’s ground-breaking for two reasons: “Firstly it bridges the gap and delivers fit-for-purpose expertise into those vital areas where skills shortages will impact corporate and national economic recovery and growth if they are not filled.

And secondly, of equal importance, it recognises the human nature of the solution, and delivers hope, opportunity and support to this cadre of highly capable people, ensuring that they can aspire to fulfilling and sustainable second careers.

This route will really appeal to technical personnel leaving the Services and from the Forces’ community and give them an excellent opportunity to add real value to the commercial sector.”

To find out more about our partnership with X-Forces, take a look here.

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.

 

 

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.”

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.