It was my distinct pleasure this week to participate in a joint customer roundtable at the Cira Center in Philadelphia, co-sponsored by HP Vertica and our partner Tableau Software, and featuring a number of our respective and joint customers speaking out on topics related to Big Data.
Our panelists, who did a terrific job interacting with an audience of more than 50 of their peers, included David Baker of IMS Health, George Chalissery of hMetrix, Amit Garg of Comcast, Seth Madison of Compete.com and Elizabeth Worster of State Street Global Advisors.
The discussion essentially centered on 5 themes related to Big Data. They included (with unattributed comments from the panelists).
- Democratizing data – all of our panelists discussed the value of giving business users the ability to understand data and make ad hoc requests themselves – as well as extending some of those capabilities outside the walls of the enterprise. A number of concerns and questions came from the audience as to how you handle security when democratizing data which were addressed by our panelists. “Self-reliance really sings to me.” “We have internal and external users – and increasingly the external users are our clients”.
- Getting more productivity out of small teams – related to the previous point, data analyst teams are generally small and their time must be leveraged – they don’t have to spend time on repetitive tasks. “Once you start delivering, are on the hook to do it constantly.” “Can’t do anything predictive if you’re reactive all the time.” “You can’t just rely on databases – you do need people.”
- Extracting meaning from data – panelists repeatedly spoke of the need for first class dashboards – and for those dashboards to be flexible and fast (a primary benefit of our combined Vertica / Tableau solution). “People are more willing to experiment and run what-if scenarios with flexible dashboards” “Your data’s growing, but users want answers faster.”
- One particularly interesting and notable comment from a Vertica customer – “Results are delivered so fast that I don’t believe it – this can’t be real.” (it is)
- New capabilities – There was a great deal of discussion of enablement of new organizational capabilities as Big Data gets under control and becomes more available. “People are more willing to experiment because time to load and query data is orders of magnitude better” “When you change the network ecosystem, you can create new offerings and new value for customers” “Having intermediate data helps with disaster recovery and provides redundancy” “I don’t think I’m doing complex things, but then people tell me I am doing very complex things”
- Time to value – Speed continued to be a theme – both in analyzing Big Data and creating organizational value – “We can answer questions much more quickly and get new data-oriented products into the pipeline for revenue.”, “I don’t need to talk to my manager or IT – I can answer that question right now.”, “You give people a taste of this stuff, and they just want you to do more and more and more”