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5 Posts authored by: Christopher Peters
Christopher Peters

Big Data Rebound

Posted by Christopher Peters Dec 23, 2014

Managing the Changing IT Landscape: Big Data

Interested in learning more about Big Data trends? Sign up for the 3 part email series titled, Intel® IT Center Essentials Series on Big Data.


A recent article in Forbes* magazine quotes a CIO at a New York City

Big Data Tops IT manager priorities.jpg

event saying he’s sick of the big data conversation. And a New York Times* article has declared big data a “big dud.”


In 2011, when a McKinsey Global Institute report declared data as important as labor and capital, businesses sat up and took notice. Big data quickly achieved celebrity status in the press and at events.


I don’t think big data is sliding into the “trough of disillusionment” phase of Gartner’s Hype Cycle.  Just look at the recent industry press. A good portion of it reflects a big data backlash from skeptics denouncing its economic value. Emerging technologies always undergo skepticism, but it’s some of these very technologies that are now crucial to our daily lives. As the Forbes article reminds us, “electricity was the demon technology of the late 1800s.”


Big data backlash?


In a previous blog, I described key insights from an A.T. Kearney study forecasting the future of IT through 2020. Not surprisingly, one significant finding points to data analytics as a top priority. It’s a clear indication that enterprise IT organizations will continue to focus on big data analytics as a core responsibility, and one that they can use to create business value from the role of strategic technology partner.


The interesting thing to me is that we have an endless need for information to help us make better decisions, as consumers and as business people. We turn to technology to help us do that. And for this reason, the concept of big data is here to stay. Big data technology continues to mature, and the marketplace offers a growing number of enterprise-ready platforms and solutions to move the industry through disillusionment to the stability of business productivity.


The signs that this is already under way can be found in the results of some 2013 studies that, among other things, look at where organizations are in the big data planning cycle. For example, a Gartner* report found that the percentage of companies that have invested in or plan to invest in big data has risen from 58 percent in 2012 to 64 percent in 2013. Looking into the near future, Gartner sees even greater investment this year in big data–related markets.


IT-Mgrs_Big Data Use Cases.jpgBig Data IT and Business Decision Makers agree.jpg

Business leaders and IT agree on big data



Intel’s 2013 big data survey of 200 IT managers found that big data initiatives are one of the top three priorities in 44 percent of companies, and three out of four respondents are already processing both structured and unstructured data. Rather than being disillusioned, these IT managers seem quite realistic, with 50 percent recognizing the importance of upgrading data center infrastructure as a key component of the overall strategy.


One of the results I find particularly interesting in the Intel survey is that IT managers judge that most of their stakeholders requesting advanced analytics had a strong understanding of big data—and that IT knows what it takes to support these requests. This understanding of big data and how to use it had grown from Intel’s benchmark survey in 2012.


And how is the survey group using big data? Today top uses are for evaluating staffing levels and productivity and generating competitive intelligence. By 2016, this group plans to use big data to improve operational efficiencies and generate new revenue sources.


Big data staying power


From my perspective, big data is here to stay. While some organizations may be tired of talking about big data, these companies ignore it at their peril. Data-driven insights and decision making have an increasingly important place in the enterprise, and exploring the relevance of big data for your organization offers the potential for solving real business problems and developing competitive advantage.



Don’t be discouraged by the skeptics. Find out how to make a difference using big data in your own organization. Whether you’re just getting starting or

currently leveraging big data, you’ll find everything you need at the Intel IT Center.


Where is your organization on big data? Comment below, or better yet, connect with big data experts in our data center community.


Chris Peters

Chris Peters is a business strategist with more than 21 years of experience ranging from Information Technology, manufacturing, supply chain, nuclear power and consumer products.

Find him on LinkedIn.

Follow him on Twitter (@Chris_P_Intel)

Check out his previous posts and discussions


#ITCenter #BigData


Germany has emerged as the World Cup champion, beating out Argentina in extra time on Sunday in a match that had over 20 million TV viewers in England alone. It seems the entire world has caught football fever; Germany’s historic trouncing of Brazil in last Tuesday’s World Cup game, for example, was the most-socialized event of all time. At ground zero, the flood of data coming from spectators in Brazil has been unparalleled, causing big brands like ESPN to scramble to adjust social media in real-time and comb through waves of incoming posts, photos, and videos for relevant information.

In a similar fashion months earlier, Team Germany was combing through its own set of data - not from fans, but from its own tracking and analyzing of players’ practice stats to find ways to improve like never before.


There’s no question that strong coaching and other factors have contributed to Germany’s near sweep of the football series (7-0-1), brushing past Portugal with ease, tying Ghana, and knocking out the USA before beating Algeria and France. Still, Germany’s careful review of data from 2,000 “events” in games and practices - every kick, pass, steal, and goal - deserves recognition. Some are even calling data “Germany’s 12th man” at the World Cup. The 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Statistics show Germany at the top of many team and individual statistics categories.


The team has been using emerging tools such as goal-line and ball-tracking technology that can measure the tendencies of players in various situations. Video analytics using keywords to detect and return specific audio and visual events from game video allows the German team to retrieve video of relevant scenes and create a highlight reel for each win.



To get an even finer look at players’ actions, Germany’s TSG Hoffenheim is placing sensors in shin guards, clothing, and even the ball itself to collect more than 60 million positional records per match, including speed averages, ball possession, and other player tendencies. Those records are then streamed, analyzed, and stored using SAP HANA, the in-memory data platform for real-time analytics, and used to build customized training applications that target the strengths and weaknesses of each player. Through data, the team has created the most efficient training plan, reduced the risk of injury, and ultimately boosted game performance.


[Did You Know: The latest Intel Xeon E7 v2 processors deliver a 2x improvement in scan speed per core, without rewriting any of the SAP HANA code.]


The use of analytics in sports and businesses is growing fast. MLS reported in early 2013 how teams, like my hometown Seattle Sounders, are using big data to improve fan experience and build stronger teams. And with Seattle boasting the best record in MLS at the mid-point of the 2014 season, I’m happy they chose to be on the leading edge of this trend.

And it’s not just the teams that are looking to emerging technology to improve. World Cup refs are embracing goal-line sensor technology along with precise video recording and ball-tracking systems. Of course, don’t expect that to clear up coaches concerns over referee choices or commentators wondering if the USA was robbed of a World Cup win again this year. Then again, I’m not above a bit of home-team speculation during a heated match either. (We’ll get ‘em next time, Dempsey!)


Here at Intel, we’re committed to helping IT organizations, sports-centric or otherwise, embrace and deploy advanced analytics, whether you’re just getting started or working to optimize your existing solution. If you’re looking to win big in the enterprise, the Intel IT Center Essential Series on Big Data has more insights on big data trends along with detailed research and planning tools to tackle analytics projects.

astro.pngThis year marks NASA’s 56th anniversary. It’s incredible to look at the speed and significance of the innovation they accomplished in little more than a half-century. In their first year of operations, they launched Explorer-I, the first U.S. satellite. A decade later, they stunned the world by putting a man on the moon. Since that milestone in human achievement, NASA developed the International Space Station, put a roving research tool on the surface of Mars, and they’ve taught us all about the universe, the stars, and our own planet.


Despite their massive achievements and contributions to society, their internal IT operations function a lot like yours. NASA is an enterprise-level organization, with just over 18,000 employees, and their IT department deals with common IT challenges, such as BYOD, big data, and cloud computing.


Segmenting BYOD Services


Similar to their methodical pre-launch checks, NASA takes mobile security seriously. Enterprise Applications Service Executive, John Sprague, recently explained how NASA created different permissions levels based on user demographics, the data being accessed, and considerations for network access points – the who, what, and where of BYOD.


Mobile network users fall into four groups:

  • Visiting scientists and experts
  • Interns
  • Vendors
  • Employees


Each group is then further categorized based on how and what they are accessing through the network:

  • Duration
  • Vetted identity or not
  • Risk levels
  • Access and usage patterns
  • Data types

Increasingly IT organizations have adopted this approach, including Intel’s own IT department, where we established a granular trust model to improve BYOD security.


Managing Hundreds of Terabytes an Hour


As you can imagine, a large research organization like NASA amasses huge amounts of data – where petabytes are as common as astronaut candidates.


(Fun Fact: There were 6,100 astronaut applicants in 2013)


While the scale of NASA’s big data challenge can dwarf many enterprise organizations, the challenges (data collection and storage) and opportunities (analysis and actionable insights) are the same. In this recent Information Week article, Chris Mattman, a principal investigator for the Big Data initiative at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory says that while some projects are focused on retention and data stewardship, “[t]here are a lot of active analytics and analysis problems that [researchers] are more interested in than necessarily keeping the data around."


While your IT organization may not be trying to predict global climate change by measuring polar ice thickness or finding ways to improve fuel optimization during a trip to Mars, the ability to streamline warehouse operations, optimize an ecommerce program, or improve customer retention with analytics are vital to your company’s survival.


As I discovered NASA’s big data approach, I drew three conclusions:


  • Manage Data: Don’t let it manage you. Decide what data to collect, keep, and discard based on business need.
  • Embrace Open Source: Solutions like Hadoop are helping to gain cost efficiencies and analyze new sets of data.
  • Stay constantly curious: Rather than feeling intimidated by the amount and type of data, focus on what it may tell you or help you discover.


Using Cloud As An Innovation Platform


In June of 2014, NASA launched another program with the goal of tapping into the wealth of knowledge and curiosity shared by the scientific, mathematic, and tech communities. The OpenNex challenge provides public access to a trove of earth sciences data and cloud-based computational resources, allowing people to help solve problems and develop new approaches to use information.


Organizations are increasingly using crowdsourcing and gamification as a means to improve services, develop necessary skills, and solve problems. Earlier this year, Intel and Kaggle partnered to sponsor a contest to encourage data scientists to compete for prizes by developing models that would best predict the winners of this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament.


Intel IT also recently implemented an internal crowdsourcing effort by reaching out to our 90,000 employees for ideas. The results allowed our IT department to provide employees with new workplace capabilities and tools they need and want.


Aiming Higher for IT Services


Ultimately, while NASA’s operations and goals likely differ significantly from those of your organization, I believe that all IT departments – regardless of industry – have more in common than they realize. We all strive to learn from our environment, to enable our company’s employees to operate at the highest level, and to provide “out of this world” experiences for our customers.


To help IT organizations tackle these challenges, the Intel IT Center has developed 3-part email series that provide the fundamentals, tools to develop step-by-step plans and evaluate solutions on the following topics:


Enterprise Mobility

Big Data

Hybrid Cloud


Before I sign off, I’d like to wish NASA a big congrats on 56 years of technology innovation.



chrisblog1.pngFor the past year my blog series — Managing the Changing IT Landscape — has explored how forces such as consumerization, cloud, and changing business demands are directly shaping the way IT operates.


After I finished reading “The Quantum Age of IT” by Charles Araujo, I began thinking about the Industrial Revolution that took place during the late 18th century. The Industrial Revolution was the first time we endured a cultural shift as a direct result of technological developments, where industries were forever transformed by the progress made in manufacturing and production. But it didn’t stop with business. This revolution changed the way human beings lived their daily lives. And it started with human beings who understood the capacity of technology to simplify and enhance life.


Fast forward 250 years and we see these same forces around us today impacting the IT industry.  “The Quantum Age of IT” eloquently summarizes this revolution.  IT as we know it has changed — with each new day, the expectations of IT organizations are evolving rapidly and new skills, technologies, and business relationships are needed for success. It’s crucial for us to recognize that these changes did not occur overnight, but are rather a manifestation of forces that have been building for years.


Evolution. Not Revolution.

crhisblog2.pngThose who lived through the Industrial Revolution probably did not realize how significant and impactful the changes were at the time. Similarly, we are simply too close to the problem to realize how big the forces are. This is where we in IT are at risk. We have to take a step back.


In this new age, the risk of maintaining the status quo can be the most dangerous behavior of all.  Even though the path forward can feel daunting, now is the time to focus on making innovation a priority in your enterprise. Charles makes an excellent argument for the need to transform IT.


Wal-Mart or Nordstrom?


In his article “Customer Disruption, It’s Already Here,” Rod Byfield describes how IT leaders are walking a tightrope — balancing keeping the business both running and evolving.


It comes down to choices of IT services, systems and strategies that are best for the business.  In the Quantum Age, Charles states that IT organizations have a single choice of evolving into one of two business models: become Wal-Mart or Nordstrom, but never both.


Transformation is Personal


My favorite quote from the book can be found on page 206 and states, “There is no such thing as organizational transformation. Transformation is always personal. It is always individual. It also can only be realized from the inside out. That is, you cannot transform another person. You can only transform yourself.”


Too often when faced with the need to change, people wait for someone else, typically those above them in the organization to lead the way. However, IT can’t wait because the business can’t wait and won’t.  Start with the services your team provides to your customers. Leadership, like transformation, is personal and throughout the Quantum Age, Charles offers practical tips and advice to willing leaders ready to make a change.


Get Started Today


For a limited time, the Intel IT Center and the IT Transformation Institute are excited to offer a special edition of “The Quantum Age of IT” at a 50% discount from retail price.


I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did.  I also hope you’ll share your insights with others and with us by using #TransformIT on Twitter

Quantum Age Quote.pngI discovered this quote during my recent reading of Charles Araujo’sThe Quantum Age of IT.” It struck me in that it encompassed why IT leaders need to embrace change — “deliver on the true promise of IT” — and how they need to embrace change — “engaged…driven…empowered to understand…in the language of their customers.”


The other week, I wrote the blog, Industrial Revolution Meets IT Revolution, based on my initial thoughts surrounding why IT leaders need to embrace change and outlined some interesting lessons from and parallels to the Industrial Revolution. As IT undergoes this current revolution, new skills will be needed — skills that are focused on the business and centered around personal development.


Developing Business Acumen


During our careers, when we change jobs or companies, we focus initial efforts on learning the culture, processes, and products, building relationships with customers, peers, and suppliers. Then we adapt our existing skills and develop new skills to guide our success. IT is going through a career change.


The developments made in the 18th century happened in response to the changing needs of the end users and the pervasive availability of new technology. Similarly, IT leaders today are faced with both challenges and opportunities to embrace and integrate new technology. Yet if our focus is on the technology, then success will elude us. I agree with Charles when he says, “IT as we know it is dead.”


Empathy is a Skill


In a recent CIO article titled Top Leadership Quality Isn't What You'd Expect, Sharon Florentine talked with Jack Cullen, CEO of Modis, about how emotional IQ is a highly coveted trait in C-suite executives today. The article details how soft skills such as empathy are increasingly important for business leaders. "‘Years ago, if you looked at CEOs, company presidents and directors, there was more of a focus on 'dictatorial style' leadership. But now, there's much more pressure for leaders to be outward-facing, to be more sensitive to the communities they sell to, or to the communities of employees that work for them,’ Cullen says.”


As a young naval officer, I was once taught that I needed my men more than my men needed me.  As an engineering scientist and confident leader (I had recently

crhisblog2.pnggraduated from college, and thought I knew more than I did), this advice ran counter to who I thought I was. But it was the best advice I ever received and is consistent to the message that Jack shares above and Charles explores in “The Quantum Age of IT.” This message applies to IT leaders as we seek to deliver the promise of IT in the language of the business.


Five Skills For Success


In “The Quantum Age of IT,” Charles outlined five skill areas that represent a combination of both business and personal development for IT leaders:


  1. IT financial management skills
  2. Critical thinking and analytical skills
  3. Communication and marketing skills
  4. Innovation and collaboration skills
  5. Leadership skills


This list may feel very generic at first glance, but I found Charles’ stories, case studies, tips and action items to be practical tools with immediate applicability. Although the context of the book is written with IT in mind, these skills apply to many if not most professions.


The sooner you accept that IT is as much a customer service organization as it is a technology provider and implementer, the sooner you’ll be able to see the value in good relationships, strong communication, and a transparent IT organization.


Get Started Today


For a limited time, the Intel IT Center and the IT Transformation Institute are excited to offer a special edition of “The Quantum Age of IT” at a 50% discount from retail price.


I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did. I also hope you’ll share your insights with others and with us by using #TransformIT on Twitter and by watching and participating in the Transform IT Web Series hosted by Charles.


Get your personal copy of Charles’ book, and join us in our collaboration to Transform IT.