EMC CIO Connect: Redefine Business Intelligence with Big Data

CIO Connect

“Redefine possible.” This year’s grand theme of the EMC CIO Connect 2015 in Prague came directly from the apparent need to change with the ever-moving technology. Together with its partners, EMC showcased in three unique tracks, how technology enables us to redefine what we think is possible in this day and age.

In the sessions under the theme “Redefine Business Intelligence with Big Data” EMC experts and guest speakers gave examples of how Big Data already changes modern day approaches, for individuals and businesses alike.

The main topics of the sessions were:

  • The Connected Community
  • Data As A Competitive Advantage
  • Determining The Significant Role Of ICT Innovation In Building Smart Cities
  • Security For The Smart Age

Mark Sear, Big Data CTO EMC Consulting EMEA, kicked things off in the first session by asking the immediate question: What am I wearing and why? Indeed he wore a vest with an included EKG that was connected with a personal fitness app on his mobile phone. The application monitors his heart rate and vital signs, collects and analyses it and combines it to recommend fitness plans. Just one example as to what is already in place when talking about Big Data in the daily life. But he also glimpsed into the future.

Mark Sear: We are a community of connected citizens.

“The value will shift from the products to their information. We are all becoming a community of connected citizens.” By 2024 we will be in a data-driven world, where every device and everyone contributes to a vast information economy. Airplanes will be auto-piloted, heart attacks will be predicted 3 to 6 hours before hand. The most important thing is: It’s not too late to start! Sear quoted a recent study which states that even though 93% of business executives say that technology has changed their business, 49% don’t know how to capitalize on data.

The infinity concept of Vodafone Italy
The infinity concept of Vodafone Italy

Nikos Angelopoulos, CIO of Vodafone Italy then spoke about how they changed their infrastructure to make data faster to accompany the new and changing digital society that every business has to consider. In case of a telecommunication company even more so: smartphone usage grows, users are more diverse than ever, and they are constantly online. E.g.: Vodafone Italy had over 100,000 sessions on its ‘MyVodafone’-App between 0 and 8 o’clock last Sunday. So they needed an infrastructure that could be 100% available, flexible, high performing and seamlessly scalable. The resulting Infinity Data Concept took 6 months to be implemented and launch and found a way to deal with a multitude of different business data by decoupling Information Retrieval from customer transactions. And he has the numbers to prove that reliability pays off:  40% more users and 60% more sessions are generated every month. “The customer wants to see the data and wants to be able to relate to it. If the customer sees that it is reliable, it builds trust,” says Nikos Angelopoulos about the key factor of the success.

Big Data – From Retail to Healthcare

Moving from the importance of Fast Data back to Big Iata, Wolfgang Mertz spoke about how the right analysis of a Data Lake leads to some interesting business intelligence.  Walmart for example challenged its own employees to dive through their Data Lake to find new insights into customer behavior. And alas, they found a connection between the sales of beverages and diapers between 5 and 7 pm, as many new parents did their shopping at that time. So naturally some Walmart stores moved their on-sale beverages right next to the diapers and revenue went up!

Mertz also focused on the usage of big data beyond marketing purposes, especially in healthcare and research. The human genome generates enormous amounts of data. Through collecting it in your business Data Lake and analyzing it with the right application framework, it can enhance treatment procedures in cancer treatments, for example. Mertz highlighted that “It enables a new way of conducting medicine and institutions are already starting the process!”  EMC works closely with the Stratified Medicine Scotland Innovation Center to help them reach their goal of delivering the right medicine to the right patient at the right time, through Big Data analysis.

An important piece of information almost every speaker touched upon focused on Infrastructure when talking about Big Data. Zaher Haydar, Sr. Presales Director, Turkey, Eastern Europe, Africa and Middle East for EMC, broke down the required steps for successfully integrating data at the core of your business:

  1. Collect: Store any- and everything in a business Data Lake
  2. Analyze: Generate insights with Big Data Analytics
  3. Develop: Operationalize with Data-driven applications
  4. Innovate: Iterate rapidly to become the agile enterprise

From an industry perspective he then gave more examples as how Big Data can be put to use. Once again it became clear: Big Data is for everyone!

Thinking Cities Fuelled By Big Data

Every industry has potential touch points with Big Data
Every industry has potential touch points with Big Data

Another exciting topic revolved around smart cities. How can official entities cope with the huge amount of data that is produced every day by the every growing amount of connected devices? Haydar argued that by 2020 over 26 Billion devices will be connected to the internet. And it is not just smartphones and iPads anymore, but vehicles and machines. From the public transport bus we use to get to work to the kitchen we cook in, everything will be connected and will produce data enterprises will need to use.

Dubai, City Of Happiness & Data

A city which has made the smart city concept a reality is Dubai, as part of its goal to make Dubai the happiest city on earth. Promoted and encouraged by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum already in 2013, official institutions in Dubai created 337 new mobiles services, with 173 of the services coming from the Road & Transportation Authority (RTA). There are services for road maps, apps for paying public transport as well as taxis, an app for your digital driver license, a happiness feedback meter and many more. Dubai’s key to implementing this huge amount of mobile apps in a very short time is simple: Engaging the user and giving the user choice. The open data concept is fuelled by an in-house data center, but they encourage students and users to create their own apps to generate services they didn’t even think about. They invite their users to be part of the design and prototyping and often crowdsource their next applications.

Maher Shirah explaining Dubai's strategy behind smart city
Maher Shirah explaining Dubai’s strategy behind smart city

But when even the cities we live in become more and more open with their data, the security risk is not to be overlooked. Alaa Abdulnabi from RSA spoke about the widening gap between attacker and defender as a result of the changing technology: “We need to redefine our security approach, because threats are becoming more sophisticated. There is a need to shift from pure prevention to a balanced approach of monitoring and analyzing.”  Because there is no 100% full proof prevention; enterprises need to invest in detecting and responding quickly to security risks. Why? Because today every 3.7 seconds a new malware is discovered. And knowing that old habits die hard, Abdulnabi offered in closing an 8-step program to recovery and to change your views on IT security in the times where we have to redefine everything that is possible.


Over the course of the Big Data track everyone in the attendance realized the powerful impact Big Data can have on each enterprise, simply because no one can allow themselves to be left behind. As many speakers focused on the how to implement the infrastructure to gain something out of those huge chunks of data, the thoughts of the CIO Connect Summit will find their ways into many IT organizations.

EMC CIO Connect 2015 in Prague

Here’s Trackblog 1: Redefine your Enterprise Architecture
Here’s Trackblog 3: Redefine your Enterprise Applications

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