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HPE & Amazon insights: Conquering the Data Divide and inspiring innovation

Asif Alam  Global Business Director, Technology Practice Group, Thomson Reuters

Asif Alam  Global Business Director, Technology Practice Group, Thomson Reuters

Kirk Bresniker, HPE, and Stephen Orban, Amazon Web Services, share insights on conquering the data deluge and how Jeff Bezos inspires innovation at Amazon.

In the next few years, we’re going to be awash with exponentially vast amounts of data and will face more pressure than ever before to analyze it quickly and correctly. Are we as a business community up to the task?

Thoughts from nearly 100 company leaders shared at a recent Thomson Reuters Optimizing Platform Experience Through Networking event suggest we are – or we could be, if we embrace partnerships and make innovation a companywide priority.

The coming data deluge

“By 2020, we will only have milliseconds or microseconds to analyze more data than we’ve ever dealt with before,” said Kirk Bresniker, chief architect and fellow of the Hewlett Packard Labs at Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

In other words, our ability to handle such a deluge needs to be strengthened if it is to keep up with data’s exponential growth. The only solution, according to Bresniker, is machine learning.

“We used to program, now we will train,” he said. “It is no longer enough to extract intelligence from raw data. Today, companies need Big Data intelligence, machine learning intelligence and artificial intelligence. The hypercompetitive company of tomorrow will know how to connect these three.”

Raw data will become an even more priceless commodity, as will rich access to that data. And, the successful businesses of tomorrow that excel at turning this data into insight will be able to make investments and decisions that will outclass everyone else.

There is another component essential to conquering the data divide: partnerships. Specifically, for those endeavors which are “bigger than us,” we have to find open technologies and do these things with partners in our supply chain, Bresniker said. While it may be humbling to admit some hurdles are too great to overcome independently, the fact is, we are on a new plane in terms of technical capability (and challenge).

Embracing innovation

Embracing the need to employ Big Data, machine learning and artificial intelligence is easier said than done, and it will take an open-mindedness and willingness to take risks. Stephen Orban, global head of Enterprise Strategy for Amazon Web Services, credited the retailer’s success to the inspiring and supportive culture at the company. In less than two decades, Amazon has risen from a bookseller to a digital platform for everything from self-publishing and audio services to cloud storage and virtual assistance.

The company’s innovation approach has four chief components:

  1. Architecture: a structure that supports rapid growth and change
  2. Mechanisms: encoded behaviors that facilitate innovative things
  3. Organization: small, empowered teams that own what they create
  4. Culture: customer obsession, hire builders, let them build, support them with a belief system

“Invention requires two things: The ability to try a lot of experiments, and not have to live with the collateral damage of failed experiments,” said Andy Jassy, Amazon Web Services CEO.

The company employs an innovation process that starts with the customer first and works backwards to drive business. In taking this approach and starting with the customers’ needs, Amazon is able to identify solutions that transition into operations and scale. Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos has said, “We will make bold rather than timid investment decisions . . . . Some of these investments will pay off, others will not, and we will have learned another valuable lesson in either case.”

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