Making Data Work with Strata Conference

Anyone who is serious about Big Data attended last week’s O’Reilly Strata Conference 2012 in Santa Clara, CA.  “Making Data Work” was the theme of the show and EMC focused its participation in not only providing a Big Data Infrastructure to economically store and manage big data, but also in delivering Agile Analytics with an Actionable Insight platform to “Make Data Work” and solve real business problems. Essentially, once you have your big data, what do you do with it???

Big-Data- Now-what?

Many sessions at Strata aimed to answer this question including one from EMC Greenplum’s Mike Maxey who moderated a customer panel titled “Create Business Value with Big Data Analytics.”

I sat down with Generosa Litton, Director of Big Data Marketing at EMC and asked her to provide some insights about this session.

Who were the customers that spoke at the EMC Greenplum session?

There were three EMC Big Data customers. Katrin Ribant of Havas Digital, Keaton Adams of McAfee SaaS and Jeff Carey of Knotice. They all shared their insights and experiences on why Big Data is important and the success criteria for making data work.

What did customers share as the first step to Big Data?

They all agreed that the first step to Big Data is to clearly articulate what you want to get out of the project. This seems like a no-brainer but with the Big Data hype being so high, many organizations are getting into Big Data just because they think they should be doing it. Which leads to the second point that was expressed time and time again. Don’t be seduced by the Big Data hype. Be clear with your goals. Will Big Data meet it?

Build your business case and get buy in from both the business and IT sides of the organization. Build your business case and get support from

What other themes did customers express from this session?

Scale-out was talked about at length. Customers advised to plan for scale. McAfee’s Keaton Adams expressed that IT often isn’t prepared for the incredible scale required for Big Data projects. It is imperative that the storage infrastructure must be able to constantly access the incredible amounts of data that will be coming into the system. The customers also agreed that Greenplum’s MPP architecture was a key scale-out feature that enables them to gain additional insight from the flood of new data that they can now access.

Havas Digital’s Katrin Ribant advised the audience to plan for chaos.  She shared how Big Data is still new that there are definitely going to be unexpected events.  So, be prepared to be agile and act fast.

Expect the unexpected

Cloud was also discussed. Many spoke about how virtualization and cloud were the starting point to enabling Big Data. This point aligns with EMC’s own Big Data strategy, which is to have a scalable and elastic infrastructure for your Big Data foundation.

What were some of the benefits that the panelist gained from Big Data?

The overwhelming Big Data benefit that panelists expressed was how it can be used to improve their products and services.

McAfee’s Keaton Adams discussed how his team is using Big Data to improve their “email security as a service” offering. With Big Data, email usage patterns can be monitored and analyzed. Unusual email usage patterns are flagged and further analyzed for viruses or potential security risks. Such threats can be detected before they happen.

Knotice’s Jeff Carey discussed how their Big Data service enables marketers to access real time data across multiple marketing channels to better optimize marketing spend.

Havas Digital’s Katrin Ribant discussed how Big Data has addressed customer attribution for a real competitive advantage for marketers –  the process of correctly understanding and attributing the real source driving a purchase.

All in all, all panelists provided very sound and practical advice, which can be applied to all Big Data projects whether you are just starting or are well on your way.

About the Author: Mona Patel