Big Data is a great topic.

Everyone recognises the rise the volumes of data being generated by individuals, systems and devices. There are some fabulous headline figures about data. It is the journalists, analyst and bloggers dream.

IT vendors are jumping onto the bandwagon and any analysis and reporting capability they have is being rapidly rearchitected to be able to cope with the dramatic increase in data volumes. Some of this is still marketing-ware. Others are already shipping. But this is reactive. A cynical response to “sell more stuff”.

Big Data – so what

What is far more interesting is the discussion that was a major part of the keynote of the TUCON TIBCO User Conference;  “What opportunities does Big Data open up?”

The strapline of the conference is “Everything is different” and the walls of the Aria Hotel in Las Vegas are littered with some compelling statistics about the exponential rise in data volumes.  The ideas is ‘whilst you were sleeping’, but of course we’re in Las Vegas, so sleep is a secondary item!!

However, some of the numbers are staggering, Whilst you were sleeping….

  • 294 billions emails were sent
  • 35 millions apps were downloaded
  • more iPhones were bought than babies born
  • 250 millions photos uploaded to Facebook
  • 2 million blog posts were written
  • information consumed on the internet would fill 168 millions DVDs

Big Data goes to work

The numbers are almost incomprehensible and they require different approaches to drive any value out of the stream of data.  There is simply too much to capture, store in a database and later run reports.  That is 20th century thinking.

The exponential rise in data requires different approaches and thinking. We need to analyst the “data in motion”, on the fly, in real time.  We need to glean some insights as it passes and much if it is only valuable  ‘in the moment’.

Real companies real examples

I have had the pleasure at TUCON of interviewing each of the keynote speakers for some video case studies. Whilst they covered different industries and a wide range of sizes of company, there has been a common theme.  They are harnessing the stream of data, making sense of it, and using the insights from the data to be able to transform their company’s products and services.  They are able to offer what Vivek Ranadive, TIBCOs’s founder and CEO, calls “extreme value”; something that differentiates the star performers from the also-rans.

Here are just 2 examples

Rick Welts, Golden State Warriors 

Rick Welts is President and COO of Golden State Warriors, the Bay Area basketball team. His entire career has been in the NBA and he is focused on using the different streams of customer data to dramatically improve the experience of going to a game. Interestingly, the enjoyment of the experience is not tied to the result of the game. Which is lucky because in the past the Warriors lost more than they won. But that is changing.

They look at the entire end to end process, from when you leave your house , park at the ground, watch the game, get refreshments, leave the ground and get home. The question they are asking is ”How can we improve every facet of that end to end experience”.

Technology has a vital role to play and TIBCO is helping them with analysis of the data and also the development of a mobile app that will enhance the fan’s connection with the team and enjoyment at the game.

Rick’s passion and enthusiasm for basketball and the potential opportunities to leverage data and technology were infectious. I hope that comes over in the video footage.

Tom Siebel, C3  

Tom Siebel is best known in technology circles as the founder and CEO of Siebel Systems that was sold to Oracle in 2006 for $5.9 billion. He made enough that finding work was no longer necessary. But like most entrepreneurs he is driven and in 2009 he launched C3, an energy management company. He saw the opportunity to capture all the data being generated by sensors in companies and homes. C3 offers a family of software solutions that help companies to understand, optimize, and report on their energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, in order to reduce cost, risk, and environmental impact.

A visionary Big Data company, considering it was launched years before the term Big Data was coined.

C3’s SaaS based software is driving incredible savings for companies such Constellation Energy and GE and the recent deal announced with Pacific Gas and Electric.

“We see significant value for our commercial and industrial customers from using C3’s energy and emissions management solution. With C3, customers can not only better understand the details of their use, but PG&E can also identify the most appropriate high value mitigation projects for rapid energy savings.”  Saul Zambrano,  Sr. Director, Products Group, Customer Energy Solutions PG&E

As Tom said, no longer do you need huge financial backing to be able to launch a software company, unlike the days when he founded Siebel Systems. With SaaS technology platforms available which are paid based on consumption the start-up costs can be low. The challenge is the integration of multiple streams of data from systems both inside his clients but also from 3rd party systems. That is where his long relationship with TIBCO comes in. Siebel Systems and TIBCO had a long relationship, and so Tom again turned to TIBCO for help on the really tough integration issues he faced with his clients.

What was refreshing was that Tom’s vision was to build a significant company over the next decade. He recognizes that value takes time to build. He and the other panelists at TUCON, (Vivek Ranadivé , Scott McNealy, K.R. Sridhar) were wonderfully dismissive of over-hyped social media companies with sky high but rapidly dropping valuations.

Big Data opens up new opportunities

So Big Data is allowing existing companies to deliver “extreme value”. It is a massive competitive differentiator, but it does require discontinuous, visionary thinking. The technology is available from TIBCO to make sense of the data, but the new opportunities will require reshaping their companies. That means process redesign and  reengineering. But the technology is also available to do that from TIBCO.

For startups there are huge opportunities to exploit Big Data, enter the market and side-step the incumbent players. And with cloud based applications paid on a consumption basis the barriers to entry have never been lower.

We live in exciting times. Let’s dive in.


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