Archive | Big Data

Keep it Simple


The age-old adage of ‘keep it simple’ could never be more prevalent in today’s world.

With the sheer mountain of data growing exponentially within organisations every day, and the raft of applications and platforms in use, it’s very easy to make everything more complicated than it needs to be.
Keeping on top of technology used within your company is difficult enough as it is, without contemplating prototyping and trialling other options that your suppliers, network or your own research informs you about.
This leads to complicated matrix-style organisational structures that require skilled resources to support specific applications, and fill you with dread every time you get a holiday request from key staff or worse a resignation letter. Throw digital requirements into the mix, as well as the need to innovate, and your organisation quickly gets a lot more complicated.

That’s why it’s so important to standardise and reduce proprietary systems as much as you can. These more standardised platforms will not only let you markedly reduce the complexity of your organisation, but will also allow a much easier ride when recruiting staff into key areas due to their more plentiful availability in the market.

I know not everyone feels the same, but when you think along the lines of standardising your platforms and/or systems, you start to see the appeal of the cloud. A well interfaced, easily accessible application, which allows you some form of customisation, but not the wholesale changes your business owners normally request, and all wrapped up in a nice business continuity assurance bow.

Another key feature of cloud adoption is the ability to upgrade and take on new features or improvements at a far more rapid rate than you can on your internal and more proprietary systems. This means not only simplifying your architecture, but getting key new features to your business units more frequently, who will be able to do more at a faster rate than before, and which ultimately may well give them the competitive advantage they were looking for.
Obviously, the majority of you will end up with a blend of cloud and internally hosted systems, but in the quest for a simpler and less complex organisation, you should never discount any form or way of best serving your business.

By now you’re thinking this is easier said than done, and that everyone’s nirvana is to have standardised platforms with simple and straightforward support structures, but it’s just not achievable with everything else going on. If you plan, budget and structure your architecture correctly, you can phase your way through towards this ‘nirvana’ at a more rapid rate than you think.

This simple and standardised structure will allow you more scope to better manage and serve your organisations, as well as making it far easier to roll out any new products or solutions and integrate any acquisitions.

Your organisation will thank you for your efforts, so good luck with your journeys and remember to keep it simple.

This post has also been featured on the HP Business Value Exchange here 


EMC #EMCDataLake Twitter Chat – Discuss Data Lake & Big Data solutions to support digital transformation

Looking forward to working with EMC as a featured panelist on their #EMCDataLake Twitter chat entitled, “Discuss Data Lake & Big Data solutions to support digital transformation with our panel of experts” on December 15th at 1pm GMT.
More information about the event can be found here and you can also take part in the event on CrowdChat by clicking here.

EMC pre-event info: In our upcoming #EMCDataLake Twitter chat, an expert panel from EMC of Suhela Dighe, Dinko Eror, Thor Rabe & Mark Sear with industry expert Christian McMahon (@ChristianMcM) will discuss Data Lake & Big Data solutions to support digital transformation. Join the conversation on December 15 at 1 p.m. GMT on CrowdChat by clicking here.


Open Data – how far do we go?

Technology has now woven itself in to our daily lives to such an extent that we cannot imagine how we ever lived without its features and relevant products as we do today.
At the heart of this huge technological transition is data: commercial and personal data which we all have nightmares about people trying to access or gaining control of.
Conversely, we are all rightly concerned about what data is captured about us but we are very open to reward for sharing it with organisations we trust such as supermarkets and other loyalty purchasing schemes.

Open data is the idea that certain data should be freely available to everyone to use and republish as they wish, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control.
The goals of the open data movement are similar to those of other “Open” movements such as open sourceopen hardwareopen content, and open access.
Why then does the very topic of open data cause such consternation and alarm? Open data is seemingly all about enabling everyone to access information to use for the greater good, but unfortunately the definition of its use will always appease and infuriate the populous in equal measures.

No area is this ‘sharing’ of open data more prevalent than in the medical world. You share your data with your doctor so that they can have a record of your medical history and thus better diagnose and/or treat you as a patient but would you go a step further and share your personal medical data with academic or professional institutions for research purposes to help society combat disease?

The power of open data is clear with Wikipedia one of the largest and most used proponents of it.
Its well known that they don’t pay their editors but still people have built the most amazing repository of human knowledge. I use it so often without ever thinking of how else I would so easily find access to the rich seams of data that it serves up and briefly thinking about it not being available is daunting but it does make you ponder further about the merits of open data.

With the next transition of technology opening up the so-called ‘internet of things’ the amount of captured data is only going to increase exponentially and if its going to fulfil its world-changing potential the need to aggregate and share that data is clear.
Will the lure of what we gain through its various services and features loosen our ties to the data we share to achieve them?

I think we all agree that there should be a degree of open data and we are happy to add elements of our ‘personal’ data into the pool but there needs to be controls in place where we can view exactly what is available and legal recourse to remedy any subsequent issues.
Getting these standards and processes in place and adhered to globally is the most difficult part of this whole issue, and crucially the knitting that binds it all together.
It won’t happen overnight and how far we go with open data is up for debate but the most critical point is that it must not be at the expense of social freedom.

This post has also been featured on the HP Business Value Exchange here 


Water Will Always Find a Way

Just like water will always find a way through or around any obstacle, so will people find a way around any security measures you seek to implement.
You may think you have thought of the most foolproof method of managing your data, but as soon as you implement it and ride out the first wave of direct (and often blunt) feedback, people will start beavering away on ways to get around your processes.

Anybody who thinks otherwise is only fooling themselves and will be rudely awakened when a security or other serious data breach occurs.

The best way to remedy this and eliminate it as best you can is to create and reinforce an educative program that informs people of the reasons as to why you are having to implement these policies and not just labouring on the pitfalls of not adhering to your security policies.
As time consuming and labour intensive as it sounds, a period of open discussion and feedback sessions will alleviate some of the staff objections prior to drawing up your policies and generate an enormous amount of goodwill.

Everybody appreciates there needs to be some level of security, especially in heavily regulated or security conscious industries but nobody appreciates dictatorship levels of oppression when they are not completely necessary.
Simply saying it’s a disciplinary offence to not adhere to these policies without explaining them thoroughly first or taking an objectionable point of view on board will alienate you from the very people you are trying to protect.

We’ve all been asked by staff across the organisation if they can use third party file sharing services like Dropbox to share data etc. and had to refuse them on security grounds.
We all know they use these services (and you probably do as well) and trying to implement an internal, secure enterprise version of a similar technology is very time consuming to manage and expensive not to mention extremely difficult to secure.

Smaller companies with less advanced infrastructure will often use third party file sharing services as a low cost and logical extension to their infrastructure.
The security risk to their IPR is no less great than larger corporates but they thrive on the nimble and agile gain that using these services gives their businesses.
When new individuals join your organisation from these smaller and more agile business through acquisition or organic growth, they will quickly challenge any seemingly draconian procedures you have in place. They will challenge you that their agility and productivity is being stifled by these procedures with the very valid reason they are often brought in to disrupt your existing business working in precisely the way they need to.

We need to take on board these new types of people and the roles they perform, adapting the necessary rules and procedures to allow them to go about their business rather than stifling them with regulation.
This is challenging and a bit scary but as long as your security is not diluted too far, adapting to incorporate these new roles and working practices will show your willingness to change and adapt and will not go unnoticed across the organisation.
In the new arena of change and disruption, those who adapt will thrive and those that don’t…. Well, you know how that story ends.

This piece has also been posted on:
The Business Value Exchange in my position as CIO ‘Thought Leader’ and Featured Contributor
The Intel IT Peer Network in my position as IT Industry ‘Thought Leader’ and Featured Blogger
Outsource Magazine in my position as IT Industry ‘Thought Leader’ and Featured Columnist