Data driven insights – bringing Big Data to 1 billion people

| Chris DeMaria


Susan Hauser, corporate vice president, Microsoft Enterprise and Partner Group on stage with Marc Reguera discussing Big Data at the Microsoft Global Account Summit in San Francisco.

Earlier this week, I had the great privilege to speak with a number of our customers at our annual Global Accounts Summit in San Francisco. The event affords me the opportunity to hear what is top of mind for global enterprise customers, and to share how our technology can accelerate their business’ growth and agility. This year, I delivered a joint keynote with Takeshi Numoto, Corporate Vice President, Server and Tools Marketing, on the topic of Big Data.

Big Data offers the path to insight and competitive advantage through effective information and data management – and there’s a lot of data out there to manage. The amount of data is expected to reach a staggering 5,247 gigabytes per person by 2020. Put in physical terms, there are twice as many bytes of data in the world than liters of water in our oceans. Further fueling the proliferation of data are the increases in new devices and sensors as well as declining hardware costs.

At Microsoft, our goal is to bring Big Data insights to a billion people through secure, scalable and easy- to-use enterprise-class tools. Big Data is one of several important trends because information, and its use, are fast becoming the currency for business growth. Through the strategic use of information, businesses can innovate quicker, acquire and retain customers, lower operational costs and drive growth.

Our approach to Big Data enables businesses to connect their own data with external data sources that are both structured and unstructured. By connecting with the world’s data, businesses can expand the scope of their own information and validate internal insights. This ability to “mash up” different types of data makes it more valuable and relevant. Best of all, our approach provides the security and manageability customers demand both on premises or in the Cloud.

The potential of Big Data is almost limitless, but we don’t have to imagine what is possible. Real examples of how Big Data is changing business exist today. A great example is the work that data services company iTrend is doing to track and analyze unstructured data generated by social media. Built on the Windows Azure platform, the iTrend platform provides dynamic reporting tools accessed through a portal that can track campaigns, brands and individual products. Once you have specified what to monitor, the tool automatically tracks, analyzes and summarizes potentially millions of conversations from multiple sources in the form of a customizable dashboard view of the data. This sort of real-time, quantifiable information is producing more relevant programs, products and experiences for customers while enabling businesses to gain greater returns on their investments.

Another example of Big Data in action is from restaurant chain Blackball, which specializes in Taiwanese tea and desserts. Blackball uses perishable components in its desserts, so it’s critically important to get ingredients to the right place at the right time. Blackball’s business intelligence used to consist of point-of-sale data which was sent to the corporate headquarters. From there, it had to be manually entered into spreadsheets. The company was also manually monitoring social media for insight into customer behavior. Their process and the tools they were using made it difficult to draw meaningful connections. By partnering with Fusionex, Blackball built a hybrid cloud solution that leverages Windows Azure HDInsight Service. They can now integrate multiple data sources, which allows them to manage their stock more efficiently and better serve customers.

While these are compelling examples, Big Data becomes even more useful when businesses are able to synthesize it without extensive training or change management. Part of what makes this trend so exciting for us is how accessible it is – both in terms of the number of people we can empower and the familiar tools we offer.

In my conversations with our customers around the world as the leader of Microsoft’s enterprise business, it is clear that we are all navigating a highly competitive and constantly shifting marketplace, making managing data so that it yields actionable insights critically important.

As we learn more about Big Data, one thing becomes clear: It isn’t a challenge, it’s an opportunity. Effectively managing Big Data helps you deliver high value experiences to your customers by anticipating their needs and personalizing their engagement with your company. Big Data helps you outperform your competitors by making informed decisions more quickly. It also allows you to grow your bottom line in new ways. At its core, Big Data is about delivering insights that lead to action and actions that deliver results.

We will share more about Microsoft’s data platform strategy and approach at an event in San Francisco on April 15. Feel free to join us by listening to a live stream of the event.

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