Big Data and Cloud in decision-making

IBA Group
Aleš Hojka, CEO of IBA CZ
Vitězslav Košina, Business Consultant at IBA CZ

It is a reality today that organizations have to deal with a multitude of unstructured documents and other data. These data have true value, if they are properly and timely processed and extracted, and also are supplied with really useful links.

Almost any business has in some way implemented a data management system (DMS), a content management system (CMS) or a business intelligence (BI) solution. Unfortunately, a new system often provides a very low added value, especially when a large amount of data is involved. Getting reasonable output from unstructured data is problematic. Why is it so?

DMS, CMS, and BI systems can be really effective, if they meet two essential requirements. The first is a sufficiently flexible environment and quick access to information complemented by strong information security. A really flexible environment shoul be able to respond to resource and computing requests in a very short, practically in real time. This can be easily achieved by using a cloud-based solution. As these requests are dynamic and cannot be easily predicted at the time when the system is designed, cloud can be very instrumental. In addition, keeping resources for a «rainy day» is not an effective allocation of resources.

Therefore, cloud is a prerequisite for dealing with big data, but it is not the only one. In some cases, data and documents are not available anytime and anywhere without limitations, though we have an environment designed for large amounts of data. This is true.

It should be noted that effective decision-making involves an increasingly growing amount of information. As the information should be available on mobile phones and tablets, an information management system cannot transfer huge amounts of data and should have short response time. If we meet these two basic requirements, then we are poised for truly efficient extraction and processing of large amounts of data, which can be further aggregated and analyzed to make a grounded decision, deal, and etc.

For many companies, using Software as a Service (SaaS0 is a problem, because they have to do with sensitive commercial information or client data. From the perspective of a cloud-based solution, a dedicated cloud is needed as apposed to shared capacities.

Many organizations outsource only the infrastructure, while we recommend to outsource the entire solution. With a cloud solution, the issue of security is solved to the extent that is normal for corporate clients. In this case, only the needed capacity is commissioned and there is no need to reserve resources for the team that takes care of the infrastructure and applications. The organization can thus focus on business and management objectives, as well as provide added value to the clients.

With mobile devices, security is a very thorny issue because attacks on their security are more likely than on the computers that are located in the company’s premises, where they are protected physically. The good news is that these devices are so powerful that allow for implementing the strongest encryption and other elements of modern security.

Taking into account the links between documents and their associated metadata, as well as other data sources, cloud computing is the best solution one can choose. It is however possible, if needed, to move from SaaS to the model, in which the solution is managed by the customer and yet not loses the flexibility that cloud offers us in terms of resources. Using cloud is much cheaper than building one‘s own infrastructure. Moreover, it enables organizations to concentrate on their requirements and business needs instead of specific software or infrastructure.

Mobile Applications

IBA Group
Mark Kobayashi-Hillary

Mobile devices are exploding in popularity – tablets and smartphones are now outselling the regular PC. But the consumer, not the enterprise, has led this revolution in how we consume computing systems.

The growth in popularity of the app store concept – initially dominated by Apple, but now with Android also being important – has changed our expectation of what it means to use a computer. The system must be easy to use, to configure, and to maintain. Remember when installing applications was something that had to be planned? Now you can just do it to try something out and then delete it if it is not useful.

The phones and devices running these tools feature a number of sensors and gyroscopes – they know exactly which way up they are and where in the world they are being used. This has opened the world of computing far beyond what anyone could have imagined – even just five years ago. Imagine trying to describe the Google skymap application to someone five years ago – they would never have believed that a mobile phone could be capable of complexities like augmented reality – that kind of technology was only for the military.
But how is all this changing life inside the company? There are two major problems for the CIO or technology leader:

• People have better technology in their pocket than the PCs supplied by the company. Why would they want to use an old desktop PC running Windows when their phone or tablet has better applications and is easier to use?

• If people have better technology of their own, and would prefer to use it in the workplace, then how can all these mobile tablets, phones, and applications be managed within the regular enterprise network?

Not only is there a problem of work culture developing in many companies, but also there is a security risk. Staff insisting on using their own technology need the support of a CIO who puts realistic governance plans in place to secure the company network, without preventing them from using the tools they prefer.

The company that gets this right will not only have happier staff, but also more productive and efficient – and why not give the staff a cash bonus for using their own technology too?

Thinking of security

When you think of security, what image do you think of?
A large secure fence around the office? Or perhaps you imagine a big dog and security guard patrolling that space between the office building and fence?

But what about cyber-security?

A few days ago British newspaper, ‘The Sun’, was attacked by international hacking group Lulz Security – the front page was replaced by a notice proclaiming the death of News Corporation CEO, Rupert Murdoch.

The same hackers destroyed almost all the main government websites in Brazil last month.

And as networks and systems get more international, with service providers operating in one country, delivering to clients in another, who may be serving end users in another, how can you begin to protect the systems that are vital to your company?

Fraud, organised crime, electronic espionage, IP theft, terrorism, activism, and even warfare can call fall under the wider label of cyber-crime and all can be perpetrated without much risk if you know how to cover your online tracks. And criminals know how to cover their tracks.
If large governments and major corporations cannot withstand sustained attacks then there is a temptation to give up and feel that it is not possible to protect your company. If they can’t do it, then who can?

But companies can be protected from all but the most sustained attack through a rigorous security audit that examines every possible opportunity for a network attack.

However, companies today are really just loose networks of partners. A large company may have a supplier for the IT network, another for the phones, another for the broadband pipe, another for the local hardware security…

For any security policy to work, all these suppliers need to be considered as genuine partners. Perhaps a deal was entered into in the past as part of a cost-saving outsourcing strategy, but when you consider how important every link in the chain really is, perhaps you need to review your outsourcing relationships if you can’t already call your suppliers true partners?