Unlocking the value of data: A tricky bit of business indeed

With previously unimaginable amounts of data now being created at a blistering pace, attendees at a recent Calgary roundtable agreed it’s going to take “imagination” to get maximum value from it.

“We are moving to a hybrid world where there is not going to be one answer for everyone,” said Robert Adley, Vice President of Solutions and Technology for Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE).   “Infrastructure and data are going from the edge to the core and on to the cloud. We need to have the right data and applications in the right place and learn how to leverage them.”

The IT manager in the airline industry concurred, offering an example of the airline installing and monitoring different systems on each of the company’s aircraft.  “Emergency type exceedances were transmitted immediately by satellite and other flight data was uploaded when the aircraft landed,” he explained. “The applications on the aircraft process the data on the aircraft in real time. The airline was surprised to see how the pilots’ behaviour changed once the monitoring began.”

For the Director at an educational institution, creating value from data is characterized by thinking of data consumers as either farmers or explorers. The farmers are happy to harvest value from existing reports. Explorers like working with data and require different tools and a safe data environment in order to work with and find value in data.

What could possibly go wrong?

Security around the increasing volume of data prompted considerable discussion among a cross-section of the representatives from the oil and gas, aviation, education, hospitality, construction, and logistics sectors. An IT leader in the hospitality industry spoke of a hacking incident that impacted 300 restaurants for a week. That was a huge financial hit and a wakeup call.  What’s the weakest link? Usually, end users clicking a malicious link. The CIO of a logistics company, who had also been hacked, said it’s ironic that the hackers, who encrypt data and then demand ransom, often have better customer support than the organizations they are hacking.

For participants whose responsibilities included managing personal data, data governance and new regulatory challenges were clearly on their minds. The conversation revealed that the term ‘data governance’ meant something different to each person. As well, there was no common data governance model. Participants agreed that there should be a distinction between data ownership and data stewardship, with the company owning the data and the staff acting as stewards.

When to discard data became a point of another conversation thread. The IT lead for oil company talked about collecting 14,000 data points at a gas plant every 10 seconds for 12 years. People at the plant didn’t know why they were collecting it until it was explained it could be used to predict equipment failures. The cost to store that volume of data is now small and the benefit is huge.

The roundtable ended with the recognition that no one is alone in this new data-driven economy. “We face a common set of challenges across industries and everyone has some wisdom to share,” said Shane Guidinger, HPE Director for Western Canada. “As an aggregator of this wisdom, HPE can help our customers in their quest to extract more value from their data.”

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Mark Perrin
Mark Perrinhttp://www.corvelle.com
Mark is a senior engineer with broad technical experience and skills. He enriches that with leadership experience and excellent people skills. He has contributed through business analysis, project management, end-user support, software development and as the leader of groups of professionals.

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