Glenn Morill, Real Discovery

Member Article

Data and Information: the lifeblood of an organisation

Glenn Morill of Real Discovery presents the second in his series of three articles charting the history, current situation and future of data and information… the lifeblood of any organisation.

The current situation of data and information within business.

In the first article we looked at the history of data and information. We now review the current situation. Organisations of all sizes recognise the importance of information however getting the right information to the right people to make informed decisions is still problematic and often very costly.

The Internet is bringing about new opportunities and challenges. Generally people now have access to a wealth of information via search engines such as Google. Business now sees the Internet as a cost effective channel to market. Increasingly the utilisation of new technologies is not always the domain of IT; it is the consumer at home using new technologies that is driving business adoption. This is reflected in the fact that 90% of iPad purchases are by individuals but 60% of them are used in business. So business users are buying the technology. It is the same with business intelligence where business users are driving the purchasing agenda.

Mobile technology is now pushing the boundaries as to how information is received, viewed and acted upon. This is still in its infancy within business but its use is rampant in the consumer space.

Dot coms after crashing in the early noughties are now commonplace with an online presence essential for just about every business. Social media is now the new kid on the block; organisations are clamouring to work out how to best use social media for profitable gain following the success of consumer usage with the likes of Facebook and Twitter. There are 37.4m people in the UK using Facebook, 32.1m using Youtube and 15.5m using Twitter… and it’s growing rapidly. Nevertheless social media can be fickle; Myspace was a star and then waned but now has 25m registered global users adding around 40,000 users per day in a dramatic turnaround after Rupert Murdoch abandoned it almost eight months ago.

ERP continues to take centre stage with companies paying huge sums of money for necessary upgrades whilst receiving little or no business benefit. Typically ERP solutions are good at transactional processing but not so strong with business intelligence although there are complementary solutions that provide better data visualisation for creating dashboards, etc.

Data warehouse projects continue to soak up resources and with a high failure rate (the number of failures is difficult to measure) as many organisations find that getting timely information to key staff is extremely difficult. This means that there are still many islands of data and limited
opportunity to consolidate.

With the increasing performance and capacity of computer memory the new business intelligence solutions use ‘in-memory’ capability. This is the storage of data in computer memory for query and reporting. One of the leaders in that field QlikView is able to compress data to 20-90% of its original size, to associate the data items and to provide analysis across almost any dimension. Increasingly as the software develops and memory performance continues on Moore’s law trajectory of doubling in performance every 18 months, the power of using computer memory to analyse information is attractive to business.

Cloud computing is providing a new platform for organisations to operate critical enterprise systems. Data in ‘cloud computing’ solutions can be hosted in large data centres anywhere in the world. Salesforce for example has numerous data centres in the US, in Singapore, in Tokyo and soon in the UK. This globalisation of data hosting presents new challenges and opportunities to business.

This second article has briefly looked at the current situation regarding data and information; the next article will look at future trends and opportunities.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Glenn Morrill .

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