Marketing at the Speed of Thought
I was speaking at a conference last week (Heliview BI, in Holland) and my theme, as is pretty usual now, was the place of the data warehouse in a big data strategy. I had a packed room, but I suspect, it was the title not my reputation that filled it. It went well, as it usually does. I think that’s because I pitch it from the business benefit angle and spend more time on the use cases, than the technology. I get the impression on these occasions that everybody has heard a lot about big data but many are not really sure how they can exploit it, and some seem concerned that it threatens their current data warehouse strategy. Of course the reverse is true and the impact of big data in most organizations will result in a lot more data being analysed (structured and unstructured) in new ways (as streaming data and at rest – in Hadoop and in relational form). The relational data warehouse will no longer be the only place to analyse data, despite the positioning of one of the relational vendors, apparently more interested in an investor-oriented stack than a customer-solution-oriented stack. But the warehouse will remain critical and in fact the amount of data that will come to rest in the data warehouse will increase – to support history, governance, lifecycle as well as joint analytics on new source data and existing warehouse data.
When I landed in Holland, a colleague gave me a lift to the conference from the airport and we got talking, inevitably I suppose, about the terrific success Netezza had in Q4. He told me about a new local customer, a telco, who had challenged IBM to a proof of concept project (POC). The competition was the customer’s expectations in this case. They gave us a portfolio of queries that their marketing folks wanted to run and the timings on their existing platfrorm. Their business objective was to ramp up their rate of developing and delivering marketing campaigns to their mobile customers (using Unica), but the current performance wasn’t going to let them do that. The queries we were set ran from 30 minutes to ‘never completed successfully’ and the target they set us was every query in less than 30 minutes.
Now you know I wouldn’t be writing this if we hadn’t succeeded, but the manner in which we succeeded staggered even me. Every job ran in leas than 30 seconds! Including the jobs that had taken hours before, or even failed to complete.
Everyone who has ever sat in front of a computer appreciates the value of improved performance, but this wasn’t about the convenience of faster response time it was about changing the business; being able to leverage the available data only because you can process it fast enough to make a difference. Big data isn’t just (isn’t even mostly) about the bigness it’s about the ‘bigness’ of the analytics you can do on it. If anyone is in London on the 9th February, I’ll be talking more about that at a seminar there.
There’s lots of Netezza customers with stories about business transformation through sheer performance. You can read a bit more about some of them here if you’re interested.
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