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

EMC picks up European Best Workplace Award

EMC has been recognised as one of Europe’s Best Multinational Workplaces in the Best Workplaces 2015 awards announced last week. Every year the Great Place to Work Institute surveys some 6,000 organisations around the world to find companies that encourage workplace cultures of high trust and engagement. Due to the success of EMC’s operations in 12 national Best Workplace rankings across Europe, the company ranked an impressive second out of a field of 25 multinationals.

Ever since EMC came 19th in the 2012 awards, its ranking in these prestigious employer awards has improved year on year. This shows the strength and quality of EMC’s people, from senior leadership setting the strategy and direction to the employees on the front line. EMC’s EMEA President, Adrian McDonald said: ‘A key factor of EMC’s success is our focus on building our strength as an employer and creating the kind of workplace that attracts and retains the best talent, talent which focuses on meeting customers’ needs by helping them optimise their existing infrastructures and build new ones.”

Head to the career page to learn more about the company and what it’s like to work for EMC.

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.

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.

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.

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.