31 (126) 2017
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Big Data – Big Problem, is there a solution?

by Pawel Grabowski VP business development and sales EMEA, Exadel Poland
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The speed of innovation grows exponentially, and the main fuel for innovation is data.

From the first days of internet through the birth of the smartphone to augmented reality, more data is being produced and consumed every day.

According to Cisco Systems, “In 2016, global IP traffic was 1.2 ZB (Zettabytes) or per year, or 96 EB (Exabytes) per month [An Exabyte is a billion Gigabytes]. By 2021, global IP traffic will reach 3.3 ZB per year, or 278 EB per month.” This explosive change in technology can be dizzying at times, and it’s hard for companies to keep up and manage to shift their business models accordingly.

There is a big opportunity here, but what about challenges?

We see three main challenges related with Big Data and its application into business

  • Technology and competences

  • Data ownership

  • Security

Already in 2014, the OECD highlighted in its report Data-driven Innovation for Growth and Well-being the  growing demand for competent resources, as well issues concerning ownership of data and incentive for sharing.

How those three problems can be addresses ? Let’s look at them one by one.

Technology: there are four big paradigm shifts related with technology which everyone thinking about big data should understand.

  • Continues technological disruption – software drives this revolution: accelerating organisational change, improve effectiveness, run lean, and create value by connecting with customers in new ways. Every CIO or CTO must constantly reevaluate available options and with the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model, new tools and capabilities are just click away.

  • Mobile – You’re carrying a supercomputer in your purse or pocket right now. It has sensors for measuring physical phenomenon, and the ability to continually tap into human experience. You are walking IoT hub.  We’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg of the way that innovative companies can use this information to improve our lives. Doing so requires apps and other software that run on the mobile device.

  • Internet of Things – IoT data is available, but most companies restrain from using it, thinking about privacy, are we as users ready to accept lack of privacy? To be successful in this arena you need to understand languages, protocols, security demands, hardware development nuances, interoperability, and the quality-assurance challenges of the world of IoT.

  • Blockchain – This game-changing data and transaction processing technology is a potential answer to urgent questions of global marketplaces, online commerce, secure electronic voting, and personal data management. But is it being understood and adapted quickly enough? And who is doing this work? How should your organisation be thinking about blockchain/distributed ledger? How will it impact you and your customers?

Let’s focus right now on competences, what are key trends in Big Data, and how can we avoid problems in this field

  • Global workforce – The need for innovation sourcing is critical to any modern enterprise.  Accessing world-class talent to supplement and collaborate with existing teams is paramount. Global software engineering companies provide access to a world of talent to tightly constrained local marketplaces. To be successful, companies need the ability to work with partners who can adapt and morph team structures to match ever-changing customer needs and business realities. For developers and product owners, the ability to communicate needs, project deliverables, timelines, etc., across time zones and language barriers can determine a company’s position in the marketplace of global enterprises..

  • Expert-generalists – Gone are the days when developers at innovation-driven companies can get by with only one development stack. The next generation of dev leaders will be expert-generalist visionaries capable of collaboration, creative thinking, and devising unique solutions to challenges that incorporate programming, UX (user experience), UI (user interface), hardware and business.

The next question is –  how to hire and retain such people? Global trend shows that technology people tend to change projects and industry every 9-15 months. Only an environment that allows them to realise themselves within the company, creates space for longer collaboration.

Looking at the Polish market, the reality is that the traditional idea of outsourcing is, fairly or not, associated with things like job-loss, lack of quality control, communication roadblocks like phone calls at unseemly hours or language barriers.

Still, the undeniable truth is that the workplace, especially for software development of big data solutions, is global. Working with a project manager in London who runs a team of highly educated engineers in Poland isn’t outsourcing – it’s a necessary resource utilisation that has less to do with cost factors and nearly everything to do with the ability to innovate at scale. I call this innovation sourcing. Innovation sourcing is understanding how to leverage the strengths of the global marketplace into the creative problem solving enterprise software development desperately needs.

So how do you choose a resource that is positioned to provide innovation sourcing to help you in your journey? There are a number of things to look for.

Firstly, how flexible is their problem solving process? Is it customisable, is there an understanding of paradigm shifts ? If the answer is 'not very' and 'no', you might want to keep looking. At a time where your organisation needs to move at the speed of innovation, having an agile and adaptable resource is key.

Next, consider their industry experience. Do they have a breadth of experience that will meet your growing needs? You might not consider yourself an e-commerce organisation, or even have plans to go in that direction, but when your business model changes or adapts, you want to be prepared. Finally, do they have a track record of success? The last thing you want is a partner who's learning on the job –  and with your money. Finding a team with experience –  and experience winning big – will give you an edge.

The nature of the global software engineering game is changing. The old tenets of speed at the cost of quality or execution is fading, being replaced by the need for quick deliverables and innovative, cost-effective, unique solutions. In a world where we can customise just about anything as consumers, enterprise organisations are demanding the same customisation for their software solutions. Innovation sourcing is no longer a suggestion – it's part of the big data driven business.

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