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Betting big

Big Data MarchInsights from Big Data and analytics can transform businesses and give it the power to make informed decisions. Reseller ME investigates what the channel partners can do to reach out to customers more effectively and monetise this technology.

Big Data and analytics is increasingly being termed as the modern day oil. And organisations understand this much better today than a few years ago. But Big Data alone cannot serve the purpose entirely, you need analytics. Businesses need to have their huge repositories of data categorised and analysed to be able to extract any information of value, which can be then used to take an informed decision and enhance productivity.
According to IDC FutureScape for Big Data and Analytics predictions 2015 report, rich media (video, audio, image) analytics is expected to triple this year and emerge as the key driver for Big Data Analytics technology investment. Dan Vesset, Program Vice President for Business Analytics and Big Data research, IDC, emphasises in the report, “Leading organisations are changing how they measure their operations, interactions with customers, and resource allocations. Faster access to more relevant data and constant experimentation is creating a further gap between leaders and the rest of the organisations. It is also creating new challenges for IT and business leaders tasked with their organisation’s Big Data and analytics strategy and execution.”
The research firm has further predicted that the Big Data and analytics market to reach USD 125 billion worldwide in 2015. And the region too is increasingly becoming committed to leap on to the Big Data and analytics bandwagon.
Dan Smith, Head of Integrated Marketing, Middle East and Africa, Xerox, says, “According to Frost & Sullivan, the GCC’s Big Data market is set to grow nearly five-fold from USD 135.7 million in 2013 to USD 635.5 million in 2020, and last year’s GITEX focused on enabling the Middle East businesses to deliver new customer and product insights, and enhance ROI avenues.”
The question regional channel partners should be asking themselves is, are they doing everything it takes to acquire a share of this market?

Partners’ prospect
From the statistics, we can see that there are huge opportunities for those partners who are agile and can adapt to the evolving customer demands.
With the help of Big Data and analytics tools and solutions, partners are in a position to direct organisations on how to approach the deluge of data they are facing today.
According to Smith, Big Data helps to make it possible for partners to provide an unprecedented array of insights into customer needs and behaviours. “It helps to effortlessly sift through vast quantities of data and organisational complexity, rapidly changing customer behaviors, and increased competitive pressures. It helps companies to collect and analyse behavioural data by scrutinising customer actions, feedback gathered through Web forms, surveys and through social channels, and voice-of-the-customer data.”
‘Now’ is the time for regional partners to broaden their skillset and invest into this field. Smith says, “For partners dealing with this technology, it can help to advance their Net Promoter Rate (NPR). Moreover, it is believed that those that use Big Data analytics efficiently display productivity rates and profitability that are five to six percent higher than those of their peers.”
Mario M. Veljovic, VP Solutions MENA, Global Distribution, says, “The number of true Big Data projects we see in the region are limited, hence the wider partner community hasn’t yet captured the anticipated growth in this area. The ‘Big Data’ projects seen in the region today are in reality ‘dash boarding’ projects.”
The two main elements partners should concentrate on continues to be enhancing skillset and understanding the value and potential the technology can give to organisations. Also, when talking about Big Data and analytics, partners must present the bigger picture. It is not just about a particular solution or product but how it can impact the business positively from an overall perspective.
Smith adds, “For partners to ensure that there is more profitability in this area it is also important to associate Big Data with ‘big spend’, they have to ensure that their customers get immediate value from embarking on Big Data projects. The term is data monetisation which is the practice of applying analytics to gain profits from Big Data. This can be successfully implemented by enterprises that rely on analytics for decision making.”
Agreeing Veljovic says, “It’s down to developing the skills to sell ‘ROI’ rather than just ‘products specs’. The partner community needs to be able to sell the true value of Big Data and Analytics to businesses in the region. Specialisation on selected verticals is key and building knowledge within that particular vertical is just as important. More than the IT skills, it is about understanding the customers’ business.”
Partners need to go deeper with the technology. And the only way to do it is by investing in training and education. If partners focus on building specialisations and becoming experts in a particular aspect of the technology, they are carving a niche for themselves and customers will come seeking their services.

Vendors’ role
Vendors also play a crucial role in this regard. By investing in partner training and education, they are building a better prospect for their offering.
Robert Brower, VP of Worldwide Customer Support and Training, CommVault, says, “One of the things we do as a vendor is manage, access and protect the data, and every ‘byte’ is visible to us. Organisations usually have data that is being generated now and data that has been generated in the past. By sifting through the back up, indexing and tagging them, we give all our customers and partners who work with these customers, the ability to go back into the archive and extract relevant information out of that data. We enable partners to be able to glean information and mine intelligence out of that repository of data.”
Also, through training programmes, vendors enable partners to understand Big Data and how it can be applied to store, manage, process and analyse massive amounts of unstructured and poly-structured data.
Smith from Xerox adds, “The vendors can help partners tap the Big Data and analytics potential for organisation by helping in shaping a plan. Most enterprises can recognise that they have opportunities to use data and analytics to raise productivity, improve decision making, and gain competitive advantage. However, actually plotting an analytics plan is complicated. And in this aspect vendors can guide the partners.”
He further adds, they can aid partners to set a strategy; draw a detailed road map for investing in assets such as technology, tools, and data sets. “Then they can also enable partners tackle the inherent drawbacks of securing commitment, reinventing processes, and changing organisational behaviour.
“They can help explore the technologies underpinning Big Data and determine how Big Data systems can complement business intelligence solutions and processes. They can also help partners to differentiate their business and provide a better service to their customers,” he says. “The vendors can also provide solutions to challenges that partners may face from time to time such as going through the sheer volumes of data and accessing the level of detail needed, all at a high speed. One possible explanation is hardware. There are vendors that use increased memory and powerful parallel processing to crunch large volumes of data extremely quickly. Such an approach can allow organisations to go through enormous data volumes and gain business understandings in near-real time.”
The partners who are successful with Big Data and analytics today are those who have really understood the technology inside-out. However, that is only a small fraction of the partner ecosystem. Partners should foster their capabilities and look at the comprehensive picture if they wish to tap into existing market opportunities with Big Data and analytics.

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