Data is king: Demystifying the power of Big Data and Analytics

...Business Analytics and AI solutions, and the value they can deliver to your organization

In an age where information gathering is no longer a process that goes to complete waste, the onset of the Internet of Things, Big Data and the Cloud have given revived hope and presented endless possibilities to organizations who are now able to use data to positively influence almost every facet of their operations.

Microsoft, in partnership with the Big Data and Analytics community in Nairobi, this week hosted a workshop to educate organizations on the capabilities and opportunities that are possible if these powerful technological tools are harnessed and leveraged correctly.

(TOP: Microsoft’s Data and AI Business Lead Piyush Bharti during the big data and analytics community workshop).

Sebuh Haileleul, GM for East Africa at Microsoft, says that while many organizations want to make use of Big Data, IT departments have difficulty in making it comprehensible and cost effective – largely because, up until now it has been neither. “Often times, companies are looking for solutions that will not create a big dent in operational spend, and where solutions are costly – understanding how to make use of them becomes a challenge. We’ve found that key to mitigating the latter, begins with housing your solution in one place – a single App.”

Compared to the past, what’s unique about the disruption happening today is its pace. During past revolutions, firms had many years, even decades, to adapt. Today, that is no longer the case. One indicator of just how fast the landscape is changing is the longevity of companies on the S&P 500, an index of leading US companies. According to BBC, a hundred years ago, the average lifespan of a company listed on the S&P 500 was 67 years. Today, that average lifespan has decreased to just 15 years. Experts predict that in the next decade, only 25% of the companies currently listed on the S&P 500 will remain there, and the other 75% will be replaced by new companies. The bottom line is, today’s organizations must adapt quickly to change, using new technologies that fuel competitive advantage, or risk getting left behind.

Three major trends that will shape and shoulder disruption in the future

  1. Astronomical explosion of data
    1. By 2020, data will reach 44ZB, quadruple what it is today
  1. Cloud adoption
    1. 4 out of every 5 companies invest in public cloud technologies
  1. Artificial intelligence
    • AI gives life to all that data we’re creating
    • This year alone, investment in AI has increased 300%

Benefits of effectively harnessing Big Data:

We’re to a new world – one that is made up of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge which is interface between the cloud and the real world. It is the layer of the mobile devices that we use to access the data in the cloud. Currently not all those devices are connected. You can’t always easily get the stuff off your laptop and on to your phone. However, if we ensure that these devices are interconnected, we can leverage AI everywhere and have true serverless computing power to make it easier and quicker access to that data and a more seamless experience.

Big Data and Analytics applications can improve almost every aspect of an organization – making it easier for employees to make decisions that are fast, smart and efficient. A deeper look presents the following benefits:

  • Inventory management – ensuring the correct products are in the right place;
  • Remote monitoring – improving visibility of company assets, facilitating more accurate predictions;
  • Predictive maintenance – allows for impending problems to be solved before they occur;
  • Personalized profiles – insights from data enable organizations to mine information in such a way that customers are offered exactly what they want, when they want it;
  • Lastly, it provides data-driven services that helpsorganizations explore new business opportunities.

“These benefits are great – but organizations require a powerful toolkit to ensure that optimum output is achieved. This is where the difficulty comes into play – bringing together various vendors and solutions is not always as easy as it seems. This is where a single App makes all the difference,” continues Haileleul.

Intelligent solutions will enable differentiation

To enable differentiation, organizations must implement intelligent solutions. There are two main categories of intelligence that are delivering real business value today:

1) Services that build cognitive understanding enable organizations to develop deeper context and to make applications “smarter”. Cognitive services make it possible to:

  • Infer emotions and reactions
  • Develop deeper context & understanding over time

2) Services that enable conversations as a platform, allowing users to interact in natural language wherever they are communicating, from text/SMS to Skype, Office 365 mail and other popular services. Conversations as a platform typically take the form of intelligent bots powered by data & the cloud that are accessible through personal digital assistants.

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