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The power of visualizing big data

Data has become a major part in our lives – and sometimes it can be inundating. It’s sometimes better to take a step back and look at the full picture – by using visualisations and dashboards, writes RICHARD MULLINS, MD of MEA at Acceleration

As every marketer knows, we have more data about our customers and how they interact with our brands at our fingertips than ever before. We have a deluge of real-time data flooding business, from a wide range of systems and sources—internal CRM databases, data managed by agencies, data from channels such as search, social, ad-servers and web analytics tools, sales, stores and many more.

Despite all of this rich and real-time information, many business’s and marketers still struggle to turn data into insights that are easy to digest and activate across the business. The organisation may have teams working on different channels and touchpoints who have a clear view of their own data, yet there is little alignment between them. Each of them is like a person feeling a different part of an elephant in the dark.

Most organisations have rolled out technology to support and measure customer engagement at different channels and touchpoints. The real challenge is to zoom back and throw some light on the elephant, to get the full picture. It’s not enough to understand how channels perform in isolation – we need to see how they interact to deliver against the organisation’s business and marketing goals, how they affect the customer experience and how each contributes to overall return on investment.

This is where the next generation of data visualisation tools have an invaluable role to play. These solutions allow senior executives and marketers to turn the data from different marketing systems, channels and touchpoints into purpose-built dashboards that offer a view of how their business is doing. It creates a visual story of the value of their consumers interactions with different channels at the various steps of their customer journey.

This helps them to better understand how channels and touchpoints contribute to customer acquisition, engagement and retention. They can get a real time view of what is happening across channels, as well as granular insights of what is occurring in each separate channel.

Increasingly, these tools are being used across multiple teams as a means of providing a common ‘truth’ that can be shared throughout the business. The use of dashboards and reports can be shared and discussed between various disciplines, enabling better strategies and cross functional collaboration. It also means that there is less requirement for data analysts to run reports and provide insights, especially given the demand and how little supply there is for analytics and data science skills in the market.

The tools allow users to pull disparate data sources into a single view, compiling reports and dashboards that allow them to easily add the dimensions, metrics and segments that matter to them. These visualisations can be viewed in real-time and manipulated according to the user’s needs.

Data is becoming an important competitive set for any business, and as marketers strive to use every contact with a customer as an opportunity to drive engagement and build the brand’s relationship.  Yet, making use of data to inform tactics and strategies is difficult if one cannot make the data accessible to decision-makers, whether they are campaign managers and planners or the CMO. Data visualisation is becoming a must as we seek to democratise analytics and leverage consumer insight to deliver richer, more relevant and timelier customer experiences at every touchpoint.

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Veeam passes $1bn, prepares for cloud’s ‘Act II’

Leader in cloud-data management reveals how it will harness the next growth phase of the data revolution, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

Veeam Software, the quiet leader in backup solutions for cloud data management,has announced that it has passed $1-billion in revenues, and is preparing for the next phase of sustained growth in the sector.

Now, it is unveiling what it calls Act II, following five years of rapid growth through modernisation of the data centre. At the VeeamON 2019conferencein Miami this week, company co-founder Ratmir Timashev declared that the opportunities in this new era, focused on managing data for the hybrid cloud, would drive the next phase of growth.

“Veeam created the VMware backup market and has dominated it as the leader for the last decade,” said Timashev, who is also executive vice president for sales and marketing at the organisation. “This was Veeam’s Act I and I am delighted that we have surpassed the $1 billion mark; in 2013 I predicted we’d achieve this in less than six years. 

“However, the market is now changing. Backup is still critical, but customers are now building hybrid clouds with AWS, Azure, IBM and Google, and they need more than just backup. To succeed in this changing environment, Veeam has had to adapt. Veeam, with its 60,000-plus channel and service provider partners and the broadest ecosystem of technology partners, including Cisco, HPE, NetApp, Nutanix and Pure Storage, is best positioned to dominate the new cloud data management in our Act II.”

In South Africa, Veeam expects similar growth. Speaking at the Cisco Connect conference in Sun City this week, country manager Kate Mollett told Gadget’s BRYAN TURNER that the company was doing exceptionally well in this market.

“In financial year 2018, we saw double-digit growth, which was really very encouraging if you consider the state of the economy, and not so much customer sentiment, but customers have been more cautious with how they spend their money. We’ve seen a fluctuation in the currency, so we see customers pausing with big decisions and hoping for a recovery in the Rand-Dollar. But despite all of the negatives, we have double digit growth which is really good. We continue to grow our team and hire.

“From a Veeam perspective, last year we were responsible for Veeam Africa South, which consisted of South Africa, SADC countries, and the Indian Ocean Islands. We’ve now been given the responsibility for the whole of Africa. This is really fantastic because we are now able to drive a single strategy for Africa from South Africa.”

Veeam has been the leading provider of backup, recovery and replication solutions for more than a decade, and is growing rapidly at a time when other players in the backup market are struggling to innovate on demand.

“Backup is not sexy and they made a pretty successful company out of something that others seem to be screwing up,” said Roy Illsley, Distinguished Analyst at Ovum, speaking in Miami after the VeeamOn conference. “Others have not invested much in new products and they don’t solve key challenges that most organisations want solved. Theyre resting on their laurels and are stuck in the physical world of backup instead of embracing the cloud.”

Illsley readily buys into the Veeam tagline. “It just works”. 

“They are very good at marketing but are also a good engineering comany that does produce the goods. Their big strength, that it just works, is a reliable feature they have built into their product portfolio.”

Veeam said in statement from the event that, while it had initially focused on server virtualisation for VMware environments, in recent years it had expanded this core offering. It was now delivering integration with multiple hypervisors, physical servers and endpoints, along with public and software-as-a-service workloads, while partnering with leading cloud, storage, server, hyperconverged (HCI) and application vendors.

This week, it  announced a new “with Veeam”program, which brings in enterprise storage and hyperconverged (HCI) vendors to provide customers with comprehensive secondary storage solutions that combine Veeam software with industry-leading infrastructure systems. Companies like ExaGrid and Nutanix have already announced partnerships.

Timashev said: “From day one, we have focused on partnerships to deliver customer value. Working with our storage and cloud partners, we are delivering choice, flexibility and value to customers of all sizes.”

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‘Energy scavenging’ funded

As the drive towards a 5G future gathers momentum, the University of Surrey’s research into technology that could power countless internet enabled devices – including those needed for autonomous cars – has won over £1M from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and industry partners.

Surrey’s Advanced Technology Institute (ATI) has been working on triboelectric nanogenerators (TENG), an energy harvesting technology capable of ‘scavenging’ energy from movements such as human motion, machine vibration, wind and vehicle movements to power small electronic components. 

TENG energy harvesting is based on a combination of electrostatic charging and electrostatic induction, providing high output, peak efficiency and low-cost solutions for small scale electronic devices. It’s thought such devices will be vital for the smart sensors needed to enable driverless cars to work safely, wearable electronics, health sensors in ‘smart hospitals’ and robotics in ‘smart factories.’ 

The ATI will be partnered on this development project with the Georgia Institute of Technology, QinetiQ, MAS Holdings, National Physical Laboratory, Soochow University and Jaguar Land Rover. 

Professor Ravi Silva, Director of the ATI and the principal investigator of the TENG project, said: “TENG technology is ideal to power the next generation of electronic devices due to its small footprint and capacity to integrate into systems we use every day. Here at the ATI, we are constantly looking to develop such advanced technologies leading towards our quest to realise worldwide “free energy”.

“TENGs are an ideal candidate to power the autonomous electronic systems for Internet of Things applications and wearable electronic devices. We believe this research grant will allow us to further the design of optimized energy harvesters.”

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