Chris Boorman, Informatica: “A tsunami of data is hitting enterprises”

2nd Apr 2012

Chris Boorman, Informatica's CMO, explains to why the biggest challenge is not Big Data itself, but what you do with it. 

Everyone’s talking about Big Data. In its predictions for 2012, Gartner reported that there is an increasing amount of information available to organisations, but their challenge is understanding it. “No regulatory help is on the near horizon, leaving each business to decide for itself how to handle the introduction of Big Data,” said the analyst firm.

One organisation trying to help companies make sense of the increasing amount of information is Informatica, whose Hadoop solution processes, stores and analyses semi-structured, unstructured, or raw data.

Chris Boorman, the firm’s CMO and SVP of Enablement and Informatica University, explains that the biggest issue facing organisations is not capturing Big Data but what you do with it. “Organisations want to know how you ensure you can trust it? How do you ensure that you can relate it to the social media world? How can you ensure that you have the relevant data? And how can you do it at the lowest cost?,” he says.

Big Data origins

Boorman argues that the very essence of where computing takes place, what it actually is and how it's delivered has never been seen before, with all three changing at the same time. The ‘where’ is changing from on-premise to the Cloud; the ‘what’ is changing as we go from traditional transaction data to new types of data, such as social data; and the ‘how’ is the move from the desktop to mobility.

“Big Data has come about because everything is changing,” says Boorman. “There is a tsunami of data that's hitting enterprises and they're looking for ways to process it.”

The result of this is that everything is getting bigger and faster, he says and argues that the most important aspect of Big Data is processing. The question of how best to utilise customer data is for all companies, big and small, a challenge, says Boorman. Informatica is experiencing an influx of clients admitting that data is their most important asset but they cannot gain the maximum value because it is fragmented across different operational systems, he explains. 

Boorman adds that Big Data is also enabling types of analytics not seen before. He outlines the work of US trucking company US Xpress, an Informatica client, which is using Big Data anlytics to drive maximum value to the company. Using traditional technology along with Hadoop, the company is saving $6m a year through measuring and analysing tire sensor pressures, cabin pressures and temperatures, and petrol usage.

On the back of Big Data analytics, organisations are now looking at how they can gain more insight into their customer behaviour, how they can define processes that will take advantage of that and how they can spot opportunities. Boorman highlights Target’s approach to Big Data as an example, which was able to identify a girl was pregnant before her father through analysing every aspect of a customer's purchase.

Cloud storage

Another challenge facing companies is how to integrate Big Data and where to store it in a secure and low-cost setting. According to Gartner, with the current global economy facing financial pressure, organisations are compelled to reduce operational costs and streamline their efficiency. The analyst firm predicts that in response to this pressure, more than 20% of organisations have already begun to selectively store their customer-sensitive data in a hybrid architecture that is a combined deployment of their on-premises solution with a private and/or public Cloud provider.

As a user of Cloud services, as well as a provider of Cloud integration services, Informatica takes the same view: ”I see the Cloud as being the continuity or evolution of transaction processing off-premise onto Cloud applications,” says Boorman.

“If you think of all the traditional sorts of applications that we used to run on-premise, we're now running them on the Cloud because of the economics of the Cloud - by paying on a subscription basis you outsource to another vendor, which from an economics perspective it's very appealing.

“This is continuing and we have now reached the tipping point through which cloud adoption is entering mainstream for most enterprises and the modern enterprise is now becoming a hybrid enterprise with a mixture of cloud and on-premise computing. Ultimately it's an integration challenge and a security challenge. Cloud is mainstream and enterprises need integration and a security strategy for how to embrace it, how to use it and how to gain value from it.”

Demand for Informatica’s Cloud integration services is growing exponentially year-on-year, says Boorman, because businesses want to remain in control of their data in the Cloud and to integrate those applications with the rest of their business.

“A Cloud application is like an island in the ocean,” he says. ”Unless you can get to it it's pretty useless and the issue facing enterprises is that the business is going out to the Cloud in all these new applications but on their own they're useless. They need to be integrated with the rest of the business. It’s important that the financial system you rely upon has the same data in it as your Cloud-based CRM system. ”

Informatica will continue focussing on Big Data during 2012 with its new product, Informatica 9.5, set to be released at its conference in May. He concludes: “We'll be putting a lot of effort into maximising your return on Big Data which includes not just remaining in control of data in the Cloud but how can you open up channels like Facebook and social media? Not just for brand analysis but looking at how you can sell your product as an enterprise through these channels.”


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