When people and organisations talk about putting information in “the cloud,” data is moved outside their premises, often to a service rented on-demand from large-scale providers like Google, Microsoft, or Amazon. Cloud storage enables people to gather, retain and generate huge amounts of data - and to derive actionable intelligence from it.
Technological innovation has turned this information into a valuable corporate asset.
Data is Money, now?
More like cold hard cash, really. But data is heavy, awkward, and difficult to move. Large data transfers can take days; weeks, even. You don’t want to be moving it very often. And you don’t want to shift it very far. And, like money, there's always a risk involved, and you have to be careful where you stash it.
There are plenty of problems when it comes to data storage; restrictive service contracts, vendor lock-in, and incompatible storage architectures.
In the worst-case scenarios, your mission-critical data could become inaccessible (or lost). But when used correctly and strategically, cloud storage can:
Fundamentally reshape business intelligence
Remove barriers to innovation
Transform the way that data contributes to commercial success
The Corporate Advantage
In the past, organisations would have to buy, build, house and maintain a data centre. This was a labour-intensive, painstaking and costly endeavour. Today, a rental contract with a cloud service provider offers instant global reach and accessibility. Having data in the cloud is scalable, too.
For smaller organisations and start-ups, cloud storage has leveled the playing field and offered unprecedented access to hungry young innovators with software solutions. Larger enterprises are realising the same advantages, by migrating their data to the cloud – often into hybrid cloud architecture, which combines on- and off-premises deployment.
For successful cloud deployments, you must be able to:
1. Assess, and Assign: Analyse the different types of data you generate and collect - and assign values to them. From that analysis, you can designate a location for the data.
2. Evaluate Vendors: Determine which services should be approved, and for what types of information. Use a variety of vetting criteria, including the country they operate in, their corporate history, their security protocols, and their proximity to you.
This strategy is known as data stewardship. Having adopted it, you'll be in a position to offload the infrastructure, applications, and services, to relevant providers - whilst retaining control of your organisation's vital information.
Companies in "vertical" industries, from insurance to finance, are using Big Data to improve their marketing, making it more personal than before. And customer service groups are using Big Data analytics to help deliver better service.
Systems could, for example, inform a call centre rep in real time that the customer on the phone had placed an order online, and had already called three times with questions about the product. This would free both the call centre agent and the customer from the need to spend time rehashing the history of the transaction.
Time is money - and increased knowledge of the customer can translate to increased sales. Klout uses analytics to measure people’s influence on social networks. Klout collects about 400 “social signals” each night, from all the major social networks, scoring each of some 400 million individuals on a scale from 0 to 100. A social signal can be anything from an actual tweet, to a retweet, to a mention.
Knowing who's hot - and who's not - can give you a vital edge, in today's multimedia business environment.
The Flip Side: Currency as Data
Data analytics are being applied to the receipt, conversion and payment of international currency.
A service like XBPConnect provides developers with access to an infrastructure enabling you to build new apps/services or to integrate currency trading capabilities into your existing products. The system is known as The Currency Cloud.
Under XBPConnect, a client is referred to as an Account. Within each account, there are one or more Contacts, a Contact being either a person or an API end-point. You can map your own Customers to The Currency Cloud's Account/Contact structure, using your own in-house Account and Contact preferences.
Currency pricing is set for all Accounts using a “Spread Table”. You can share spread tables across Accounts, or create individual ones for each Account. Pricing is calculated as a “mark-up” to the core currency and payment prices you receive from The Currency Cloud.
Controls (risk limits) are placed on customers, so you can manage the “transaction sizes” and overall exposure that you have to a customer who buys or sells currency. Security is regulated by the UK Financial Conduct Authority, which lists XBPConnect/The Currency Cloud as an Authorised Payment Institution.
For The Record...
According to a report by Wikkbon, "Big Data Vendor Revenue and Market Forecast 2013-2017,” Big Data is projected to be a $28.5 billion market in 2014, growing to $50.1 billion in 2015. We're not talking peanuts, here.
Competitive advantage will increasingly hinge on your organisation's ability to access and strategically harness information. The cloud can be a valuable tool when it comes to fulfilling this pursuit.