I’ve been reading about Paracelsus, the early 16th century German-Swiss physician, who became famous for pioneering the use of chemistry in medicine. What I love most about him is his thinking, which is summed up in this quote: “The more knowledge is inherent in a thing, the greater the love.”
If he were alive today (and working in IT), Paracelsus might say that the more data and visibility we have of the customers we serve, the better we’d become at serving them. For Paracelsus, data is the root of knowledge, and, of course, love. I like to think he would use his thinking to instil a data-first culture within organisations for the sole purpose of making customers’ lives better.
Improving customer intimacy and service through data is the goal of most modern business and government. But in organisations where legacy systems have evolved over time, due to growth and acquisition, one finds data siloed in data centres or scattered across apps in the cloud. Data management systems are limited to managing only what the software vendor designed them for. At the same time the infrastructure and storage options used by organisations cannot keep up with the exponential explosion of data.
At the heart of this is a lack of understanding of how powerful data is, and how human culture and practices confound the ethical use of data for progress. A case in point: vendors of enterprise systems that collect and collate an organisation’s data, have long understood the value of this information, and have created structures that lock data away in proprietary systems.
Edd Wilder-James, Google’s development lead on TensorFlow (machine learning platform), Go, and Kubernetes, and founding chair of O'Reilly's Strata Conference on big data and data science, wrote of this obstacle back in 2016: “Although the power of analytics is common currency, it’s spoken of far more often than it’s practiced,” he stated, adding: “The biggest obstacle to using advanced data analysis isn’t skill base or technology; it’s plain old access to the data.”
The move to IoT further complicates matters. We need to go further than just extracting data at the edge, storing it in a cloud, and then displaying this data in a way that makes sense in an app. Successful data practices must be infused with “love” – ensuring that data is ongoingly cleaned, refined, processed, and then combined with all other data.
The secret to success is clearly about creating an integrated flow of information throughout the organisation, combining and recombining data from machines, enterprise systems, and external sources, into insights. These insights must then feed back into the organisation to create actions: planning, design and execution of products and services that delight customers.
Big tech companies have wrestled with these issues for years, and until now have relied on clumsy middleware and large data warehousing solutions. But these too became complex to manage, as they grew. Not only is ‘big data’ growing incrementally, but the speed at which it is generated, and the speed at which it needs to be processed, is also increasing. Conventional storage systems are simply too slow and require far too many IT resources to manage.
The capital expenditure on large data storage, redundancy and security has also become a burdensome factor. Legacy systems were built in a different era, to do a different job, in a different environment.
HPE has reinvented data storage, with the HPE Intelligent Data Platform. Not only is this built for the demands of AI and Machine Learning platforms, but it uses AI to continuously learn and adapt to its hybrid cloud environment, to better manage and serve data. It can be deployed as hardware on-premises, as a virtual appliance, or as a cloud service. Intelligent storage can move data where it needs to be, and proactively optimises data throughout its lifecycle. It provides data protection and encryption to eliminate potential security threats and is provided in a pay-as-you-go model.
Unlocking the value of data is all about creating systems of intelligence (Paracelsus would call this love) and aligning teams so that your organisation is a living, breathing organism, dedicated to data integrity and use, that gives you a clear competitive advantage. This is achieved with open, intelligent, adaptive infrastructure that works today and tomorrow, accommodating new data and machines, as your system evolves.
Oreste Majeli - HPE Business Development Manager at CDW
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