7. Unlock the Potential
The benefits of Hybrid IT and a data-driven approach
Data is the currency of the new digital economy. The hallmark of data-driven success, however, lies in each organisation’s ability to harness information effectively to improve business outcomes – from increasing customer satisfaction to reducing risk.
IT leaders are expecting big things from big data. Many view analytics as the technology that’s most likely to have an impact on their organisations over the next three to five years. Indeed, 59% of UK-based CIOs plan to increase their data analytics spend over the next 12 months, according to 2018 IDG Research Survey.
However, as CIOs steer their organisations toward data-driven enterprises, many are finding their efforts thwarted by inflexible IT infrastructure and legacy data warehouses. A growing “app-data gap” between applications and the data that business users needdaily can inhibitproductivity. The rising volume, velocity, and variety of data create challenges for companies to easily and cost-effectively scale storage and compute capacity.
Organisations need large quantities of both to fuel faster decision-making and react in real-time to the ebbs and flows of business. They also need storage that’s smart enough to predict and prevent downtime and other issues that can impact the business. For example, HPE has demonstratedthat its predictive all-flash solution automatically predicts and prevents 86% of storage-related problems. The goal is a data centrethat is self-healing, self-managing, and self-optimising.
This ties in with the business initiatives that UK technology leaders consider most significant in driving IT investments in their organisation. Increasing operational efficiency (38%), improving the customer experience (33%), and growing the business (32%), all of which benefit from having effective data analytics.
“One of the things I particularly enjoy about the public hyper-scale platforms is they have great analytics, machine learning and AI that just comes with them. I am a particular fan of application insights, so we are using those for our digital products and apps, to look at real-time performance and availability, and tell us where customers are using those apps and where we might want to invest to improve the customer experience.”
– Alan Crawford,
CIO, City and Guilds Group
Which of these disruptive technologies is most likely to have an impact on your organisation over the next three to five years?
Drag-and-drop the list below in order of importance.
What you say:
- 1Artificial intelligence
- 2Big data/analytics
- 4Internet of Things
- 5Self-service IT
- 6Next-generation Wi-Fi
What other CIOs say:
However, as CIOs steer their organisations toward data-driven enterprises, many are finding their efforts thwarted by inflexible IT infrastructure and legacy data warehouses. A growing “app-data gap” between applications and the data that business users needdaily can inhibitproductivity. The rising volume, velocity, and variety of data create challenges for companies to easily and cost-effectively scale storage and compute capacity. Organisationsneed large quantities of both to fuel faster decision-making and react in real-time to the ebbs and flows of business.
They also need storage that’s smart enough to predict and prevent downtime and other issues that can impact the business. For example, HPE has demonstratedthat its predictive all-flash solution automatically predicts and prevents 86% of storage-related problems. The goal is a data centrethat is self-healing, self-managing, and self-optimising.
The European Commission has predicted a 160% increase in demand for big data skills between 2013 and 2020, with 346,000 big data jobs, including data scientists and data analysts, expected in the UK alone.
In data-heavy industries such as biomedicine, many organisations are accelerating the move to public cloud as they bump up against the limits of on-premises storage and processing capabilities.
“The power of genomics is a statistics game. You need big data sets,” says William Mayo, CIO at Broad Institute, a biomedical research organisation. “I can’t do petabytes of data in a data centre. That needs to start outside [in the public cloud] and stay there.”
The challenge becomes even more daunting as CIOs begin to integrate new data sources from Internet of Things (IoT) and other “edge” devices. Much of this data will stay where it’s created for practical reasons, such as data size, response time, and regulations regarding data privacy and sovereignty.
Therefore, as organisations use the public cloud to perform advanced analytics on massive amounts of data, they must also prepare for a future characterised by edge analytics. One which utilises machine learning to transform data wherever it resides and send insights, not just raw data, back to the core.
Real-time Insights with Advanced Data Analytics
A 3- to 4-year effort to modernise SunTrust Banks’ data infrastructure around a Hadoop-based data lake platform has helped the financial services organisation streamline data management, improve data governance, and add more real-time operational data to its analytics capabilities, says Anil Cheriyan, SunTrust CIO.
“Analytics is a core part of what we do, whether it’s risk underwriting, fraud, or many other components,” says Cheriyan. Modernising hundreds of traditional warehouses into a data lake has dramatically increased the speed at which the bank can process and make information relevant to people throughout the organisation.
“Our digital platforms are now closely tied to our data lake, which helps us to know our clients better,” he explains. An integrated view of prior interactions, both online and in branches, “enables us to serve our clients in a better way,” he adds.
59% of UK-based CIOs plan to increase their data analytics spend over the next 12 months
Using Data and Analytics to Eliminate CIO Pain Points
At AmeriPride, CIO Steven John and his team made a decision two-and-a-half years ago to gut the company’s existing information stack, replacing a data warehouse that John admits never had the vision or financial support needed to work effectively. In its place, the company implemented three core components: Tableau visualisation software, Micro Focus’s Vertica distributed analytical database, and Informatica’s data management platform.
At a basic level, the simplified stack helped John’s team eliminate one significant pain point: reducing the time required to produce daily operational reports. A process that used to take 36 hours now runs in fewer than 15 minutes.
Streamlined reporting has enabled AmeriPride to expand its analytics effort across the business. John’s team has built 20 dashboards by which employees now live and lead, providing real-time visibility into everything from safety standards to fleet management.
The analytics infrastructure has become a foundational piece of AmeriPride’s broader vision to simplify, standardise, and automate across the business.
“We had a three-legged stool with two legs: good judgment and good leadership,” says John. “We added good data, which gives us a solid base to make better decisions. It has changed the entire dynamic of our company.”
– Alan Crawford
CIO, City and Guilds Group
Machine Learning and Insights with Hybrid IT
A flexible Hybrid IT infrastructure that can scale storage and computing capacity as needed opens the door to an influx of data that can overwhelm traditional data management methods, tools, and analytics teams. That’s where machine learning plays an increasingly important role. Organizations are increasingly evaluating solutions that utilise machine learning and predictive analytics for many infrastructure-related activities such as downtime prediction, prescriptive resolution, root-cause analysis, and even analytics-driven tech support.
“A lot of data can be a liability if you don’t know what to do with it,” says Jeff Wike, CTO at DreamWorks Animation, creators of blockbuster movie franchises such as "Shrek" and "How to Train Your Dragon".
DreamWorks Animation certainly produces a lot of data: A single 90-minute, computer-generated animated feature film, at 24 frames per second, comprises 130,000 individual frames – approximately 500 million digital files. The studio’s image-rendering operation processes up to 112,000 transactions per second during image creation while collecting close to 1 million artifacts about that information daily, according to Wike.
“A lot of data can be a liability if you don’t know what to do with it.”
— Jeff Wike,
CTO, DreamWorks Animation
As part of a broader transformation of its data centre and data management architecture, DreamWorks has optimised its rendering operations with advanced analytics. The approach helps determine how long it takes to make a particular image and exactly what resources are needed for specific tasks based on past performance.
Automating this analysis is a big step forward from manually examining log files in search of patterns. “Guessing was not very reliable,” Wike says. “By actually capturing those artifacts and predicting their patterns through machine learning, when a similar job comes in we know precisely how many resources to devote to it.” The system has improved rendering performance by about 15%.
The analytics tools also use anomaly-detection methods to help identify problems with rendering processes. “Anomalies can throw a wrench in your plans to complete a project,” Wike says. “The ability to detect problems as they are happening — or before they start — and triage them has a huge impact.”
“That’s really the biggest advantage. It saves an enormous amount of artists’ time and engineering resources trying to solve problems when we’re in the heat of production,” he says. “That’s priceless.”
Machine learning also plays a growing role in SunTrust’s efforts to protect its customers against fraudulent activities.
“There are lots of active bad guys out there who are trying to leverage financial institutions to steal money,” says Cheriyan. “More modern, real-time analytics tools that leverage machine learning enable us to connect a lot of core analytics into our business processes and core operational systems.”
Connecting risk management systems with transactional systems lets SunTrust more quickly flag potentially inappropriate behaviour and take action proactively. “The speed at which we can process and make information relevant is where the real benefits are coming from,” he says.
7. The 3 Cs of edge computing
Organisations are using edge computing to create smarter buildings, cities, work spaces, retail experiences, factory floors, and more. Here’s how to capture deeper insights from the “Intelligent Edge.”
Network or direct connect the devices and things at the edge: cars, tools, gadgets, appliances, people, power grids, robots, street lights, pumps, buildings, etc.
Configure, actuate, or orchestrate the things and equipment the edge.
Analyse data from the edge to reveal new business, engineering, or scientific insights.
6. Keep it Secure
Ensure security is baked into all aspects of Hybrid IT.
8. Charting a New Course
CIOs: Chart a new course for enterprise IT.
Take a Deeper Dive into Hybrid IT
The Strategic CIO’s Playbook
Create a game plan for accelerating digital transformation with the right mix of Hybrid IT.