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How to give data real meaning

23 July 2014 by Jerome Sandrini, Director Cloud and Big Data Platforms, Bull

With its new OneBull strategic plan, IT group Bull is reorganizing to focus on the Cloud and Big Data.
Jerome Sandrini, the Group’s Director of Cloud and Big Data Platforms, explains these new challenges.

Bull has announced a new strategic direction for the Group, putting the emphasis on the Cloud and Big Data. Why and how?

Jérôme Sandrini - It took 40 years to develop the computer, 20 years for the mobile phone, three years for social networking and just six months for touchscreen tablets. Look how fast we’ve moved on from 3G to 4G, and we’re already talking about 5G. Around 90% of the data now available in the world has been created in the past two years. The rise of connected objects is generating trillions of items of information. According to our estimates the Cloud is likely to grow, on average, at around 17% a year from 2014 to 2017, while Big Data will see a 27% annual increase.

All this creates a major new challenge for businesses: how to deal effectively, quickly and securely with a massive amount of data, how to analyze it intelligently and make sense of it? That’s not something they will be able to achieve alone. New hardware, new systems, new software, new skills… are all needed. Historically ,Bull has manufactured high-performance servers capable of storing and processing a huge amount of data and an expert in mastering complex integrations involving many sources. And it’s well known for its expertise in computer security: an increasing crucial. So it was perfectly natural for Bull to move towards Cloud services and Big Data, in other words towards data intelligence. Nowadays, Bull is active across the whole data value chain (even if this involved forging carefully targeted partnerships), from data gathering to visualisation, and including data management, archiving, security, analysis and restitution, while at the same time working to improve the carbon footprint of the ‘chain of information’.

One year on, how do you see the changes in the Cloud and Big Data market?

Jérôme Sandrini – 2012 can be seen as a time of evangelizing, while 2013 was the year when the market was educated. All our customers were asking us lots of questions about Big Data solutions and their migrations to the Cloud. Businesses needed to have these new technological architectures (invented by the Internet giants) explained to them, as well as how they would be able to generate value for the organization. One year on, the market has matured. Companies are engaged in real projects, with real budgets, at the request of the business (marketing, special projects…).

For example, we’re working with Stade Toulousain (Toulouse) – one of Europe’s leading rugby clubs, with a very focused approach to its ‘fan community’ (nurturing the concept of belonging to a ‘club’, promoting branded merchandise…) – which has been a very early adopter of the idea of managing data, especially on social networks. From 2013 onwards, we started to collect and perform qualitative analysis on the existing data on social networks (blogs, newsfeeds, Twitter, Facebook…). Today, we’re integrating this data with existing internal systems such as CRM to generate highly targeted marketing campaigns.

For customers in the financial sector, we have developed risk management solutions that involve processing very substantial amounts of data and have high performance requirements. For another customer, who produces alcoholic spirits, we’re working on using meteorological data and analysing the impact that the weather has on sales, to optimize inventory management and the coordination of its distribution networks. What’s important in Big Data is the bringing together of internal company data and external unstructured data, from various sources: and the big challenge is the ability to give meaning to the use and analysis of this correlated data.

Our analysis solutions delivered in SaaS mode via the Cloud allow customers to consume our services on a pay-per-use basis: in other words, when they want, how they want, with the guarantee that the available solutions will always at the forefront of changing needs and technology.

It’s up to operational, marketing and communication functions to make the most of the leverage that technology offers. Our role is to provide the Big Data solutions they dream of, while meeting the legitimate demands of IT Departments, both in terms of security and complex integration. Our customers are clearly moving towards the Cloud: that’s to say, they’re moving on from data center virtualization to the consumption of on-demand services focused on data for visible consumer benefit.

Source: Influencia n°9/June 2014/Portrait of Jérôme Sandrini by Arthur Poitevin

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