Technology and Data News and Events

Data Analytics support against pandemic

How Big Data and AI can support the challenges faced with COVID-19

by Mike Jones 08/04/2020

The emergence of COVID-19 has created an unprecedented public health crisis. In China, where the virus first appeared, the nation quickly utilises its existing big data systems to support in the battle of containing the virus as much as possible. Big data and artificial intelligence professionals can collaborate with public health members to measure and monitor new cases, support with the projecting the spread of the virus and the development of new isolation measures.

Pandemic refers to a disease that will commonly spread exponentially, with an infection level that exceeds the rate of recovery. Health members can use data and computer modelling systems from clinical data to forecast patterns and the trajectory of the pandemic. The significant challenge comes in measuring the spread across communities. Big data tools may provide considerable support in supporting the science of monitoring community spread. For example, calculating the Ro (the rate of a disease spreading in a given population) is complex in an ongoing pandemic as generating an accurate figure requires accounting all untested individuals. Artificial intelligence and big data information surrounding people and their lifestyle can support the development of a range of models and potential scenarios.

As the pandemic progresses, clinical data will be vital in determining what treatment methods are the most effective. There are multiple variables that need to be considered but AI can help calculate which variables are impacting patient outcomes and what techniques are working for the average individual. AI can be implemented to track and assess effective treatment methods for medical professionals treating individuals with heart disease or diabetes, preexisting conditions that make the prognosis for COVID-19 poor. Big data insights may reveal patient outcomes influenced certain variables such as location, income or other socioeconomic factors. This information could be vital to health professionals in improving treatment methods.

The importance of analytics

In the current crisis, proactive analytics can be used to understand what areas and what facilities need more equipment. The existing situation involves a high demand for tests and AI could support us in understanding which locations need tests more urgently than others, by using a specific set of measures. A proactive analytics system could enable an efficient identification plan, distributing tests to areas that are suspects of having a higher impact level.

Proactive analytics can support health professionals in determining high-risk patients that require additional support or testing to maintain safety.

The path of COVID-19 is near impossible to predict completely as official decisions will have a significant influence on shaping its path. These decisions, however, can be influenced by applying big data testing procedures in coordination with public health professionals. The technology industry, big data and the implementation of AI can all support our response to health challenges. 

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Zoho Service

Zoho’s offering raises the level for other SaaS companies

by Mike Jones 08/04/2020

In response to COVID-19 Zoho has announced a new service providing free access for existing customers to all applications. The pandemic is having a significant impact on businesses worldwide and many software providers are offering their support. Recently, Zoho announced the launch of Zoho, aimed at existing and potential new customers to operate efficiently from home.

Zoho has expanded on this service and has shown its commitment to businesses over the next few months. The Small Business Emergency Subscription Assistance Program will enable 20,000 existing customers to sign up to free access for a three month period. Sridhar Vembu, the CEO of Zoho described the move as explaining that businesses are suffering and facing mounting pressure in terms of revenue and cash flow. The added uncertainty of when things will improve is creating further challenges for companies and Vembu believes that any support Zoho can offer will enable small businesses to continue, both financially and emotionally.

The offer is being regarded as a significant move by Zoho, one that provides free software for customers in a time when the business needs to ensure stability during these challenging times. The offer by Zoho may make the difference between a company surviving or failing. Many businesses rely on regular use of Zoho products and view their services as a critical part of their long term business success. The three-month offer will enable businesses to survive for longer and avoid additional layoffs of staff.

Other industry members are now looking to see if other enterprises make similar moves, if they continue to charge for cloud services or follow a similar path and adapt their products, albeit as a temporary measure. It creates a further challenge for other businesses as many will need the revenue to survive but may face further competition from other rival cloud services offering free or discounted alternatives. The larger SaaS businesses need to ensure they support their customers but at the same time ensure their business remains stable for the future.

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Data and Analytics in the finance industry

How analytics can support the next steps for businesses

by Mike Jones 25/03/2020

As we continue to practice social distancing and follow the restrictions associated with travel, workplaces, schools and other venues, we are having to transform our communication techniques. Technology is enabling us to maintain these connections despite the lack of physical contact, allowing many businesses to continue operating remotely and for their workforce to remain intact.

One particular challenge for businesses, customers and our global economy is related to this distancing and being capable of managing effective communications and morale during a very difficult period.

The support of analytics

With the emergence of COVID-19 came an overwhelming amount of new information, conflicting reports and studies flooding our communication channels – and this is likely to continue for some time. For businesses and more specifically data teams, it is a very complex situation to determine the best decisions to make for growth and performance.

Businesses are trying to continue operating but with reduced resources and a high level of uncertainty in the future makes it very challenging. During times like this, good reliable data and the ability to make a strategic and informed decision with analytics is vital.

Analytics is an essential tool during these turbulent times. If you are a data professional in the healthcare industry, the information will be essential in determining hospital capacity or in manufacturing, data will be carefully used to measure supply capacities.

Stay resilient is a common term that is being used across LinkedIn right now and for many businesses, resilience is critical for securing your business for the long term. During this crisis, we are naturally focused on addressing the current challenges we face but businesses need to be forward-thinking and consider what processes, technology and people they need to maintain stability for the future. People are critical in digesting data to determine clear and logical decisions that will influence efficiency and control potential risks.

For the short term, business leaders should consider implementing a clear analytical strategy, using predictive insights to understand and prepare for future challenges they may face.

Ultimately it is up to us, the people to solve the problems but technology can provide a very helpful hand. During a time where we are experiencing limited connection, we should consider the importance of sharing knowledge and most importantly, solutions. The analytics industry is equipped with skills and knowledge that have the capacity to support businesses through these unprecedented times.

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Clinical Research Platform Oracle

Oracle to release new platform to support clinical research treatment of COVID-19

by Mike Jones 25/03/2020

Oracle has confirmed that they will provide a platform to support clinical trials exploring if two malaria drugs could potentially be approved for the treatment of COVID-19.

Oracle will provide a new platform that will allow the US government to operate clinical trials to tackle the current global pandemic. The full details of the Oracle platform are still being finalised but it is believed the platform will allow the Department of Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Administration and Centre for Media to measure treatment scenarios with the malaria drugs.

There has been some support for the use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine against the current pandemic but clearly more testing is required. The platform proposed by Oracle would be capable of tracking treatments, gathering data from the field and other relevant store details associated with patients’ symptoms. The data will be essential in understanding the effectiveness of malaria drugs.

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Recent acquisitions boosts Insightsoftware’s place in the EPM market

The rise in the remote workforce creating demand for Cloud and SaaS products

by Mike Jones 18/03/2020

A number of digital platform providers including Microsoft and Zoom have seen a significant surge in uptake particularly within China, Italy and the U.S due to the rising threat of the coronavirus. Businesses across the globe are instructing employees to work from home as governments implement measures to reduce the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Many workplaces are expecting isolated measures to be enforced for extended periods and are looking towards new technology platforms to ensure their employees can continue to work efficiently from home.

In areas experiencing major outbreaks, digital enterprises have already had to cope with a significant influx of new members using cloud platforms and SaaS systems to work from home.

Despite rising demand, industry experts have emphasised that there are no concerns that the internet will collapse, however, the situation could be location dependant. Response times will vary depending largely on the network infrastructure

Business preparation

Leading CRM software business Zendesk believes that many digital-focused companies already tend to operate in a way that fits the style of a remote workforce. Zendesk remains confident that its infrastructure is capable of providing the necessary support for its customers and employees regardless of the location.

Zendesk has a global workforce and many of their meetings regularly involve video calls for some employees. The CRM leader reiterates that businesses need to consider added support for their employees and remember that working remotely does come with certain challenges. Industry professionals believe that areas that have developed strong infrastructure are likely to handle this surge of new traffic. 

The number of new users for vide0 meetings cloud services has risen dramatically in the last month, with an increased number of new businesses adopting these platforms. The systems provide the flexibility and ability to support a range of varied workloads. One of the core benefits of modern cloud infrastructure is the capability to scale automatically depending on the levels of demand. This auto-scaling feature enables businesses to quickly launch new services and the capacity to support fluctuations in new users and traffic.

Industry professionals believe that if work and travel restrictions continue to impact the demand for SaaS products, many providers, such as Dropbox and Salesforce will be prepared as they have adopted a data-focused approach to infrastructure management and application traffic that enables them to utilise the flexibility that cloud can provide.

Using real time data concerning network and resource availability enables them to control their resources and maintain reliable and effective performance levels. Realtime analytics combined with real application data provides technology teams with the information to manage workloads between their resources as demand continues to fluctuate.

Industry experts suggest that enterprises should consider introducing new infrastructure to manage resource use and monitor potential problems associated with traffic spikes or to implement measures to manage capacity concerns in certain locations

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Exploring Oracle’s approach to the cloud

by Mike Jones 12/03/2020

In terms of other major players, Oracle may be a little late to join the cloud infrastructure market, however, Oracle believes they can offer a superior service to its competitors, particularly in certain regions.

Many businesses are considering what strategies to take in terms of cloud implementation. Many that have begun to integrate cloud services typically intend to replace on-premise systems to the cloud to yield the economic benefits, the efficiency and flexibility of the cloud. Other businesses are taking a more cautious approach, avoiding moving everything to one particular cloud without having a clear strategy in place.

As a result, many businesses are continuing to rely on their on-premise systems to maintain performance and data stability. A challenge for many in the transition to cloud relates to security. Being a latecomer, Oracle is in a strong position to offer a cloud service built specifically with security in mind. Oracle highlight that other suppliers have experienced recent breaches and believe many will face security challenges in the future.

The difference in the cloud approach at Oracle

Oracle decided to segment cloud implementation into two separate sections, one for customer data and all the code corresponding to that data in a separate physically isolated network. This approach improves oracle cloud performance. The second feature Oracle implemented was the launch of the autonomous database system, strengthening the security of their service.

Oracle highlights that this system is being offered as a converged data management platform, incorporating a range of data options in one single offering that operates on a physically separated oracle cloud infrastructure. For businesses developing new applications, this service offers data in an autonomous database that is backed up, secured and managed.

Oracle is also offering deployment choice, enabling businesses to select any on-premise workload or service and to operate this on the public cloud, allowing security and other management systems to be maintained.

Oracle believes the demand for cloud services is remarkably high and many are exploring the right path to make the transition. Oracle is showing customers what is possible with the autonomous database in the cloud and how machine learning algorithms can be integrated into databases. Oracle believes it is more than a movement from on-premises to the cloud. Customers are being shown the added benefits of having their data on the cloud such as the benefits related to machine learning and artificial intelligence.

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Enterprise performance management: critical to business performance

by Mike Jones 12/03/2020

It’s inevitable that technology will transform how businesses operate. The key challenge for many is ensuring the changes generated by technology enhance business performance. When a company explores its IT systems, many will likely see a segmented number of products and possibly look at consolidating their services into a singular and innovative product.

A singular system, whether it be for finance or another sector is highly effective in terms of planning, management and sharing information between other parts of a business. Yet, the transition to another system can be challenging and without the necessary information and support, some businesses find the idea of shifting systems very overwhelming.

In terms of finance, businesses clearly understand that this period of transformation will require simplicity, flexibility and better planning systems. In contrast to many traditional planning systems, the cloud can meet many of these requirements and has proven to be very effective for many companies.

Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) services can be an overwhelming prospect for new companies looking to overhaul their planning, reporting and analytics systems. Preparing for movements in the software is inevitable for businesses but ensuring you are prepared and ready to find a replacement is important.

Replacements to new technology must be capable of meeting the existing and future requirements of a business. This is why focusing on EPM makes sense as it enables businesses to determine the most suitable software solutions available in the marketplace. Committing to a transition from dated technology will solidify a business for the future. 

EPM solutions provider Jedox has developed a system to support professionals with what steps to consider when preparing to make the transition between EPM platforms. Moving away from outdated legacy technology future-proofs the enterprise.

Jedox, a leader in enterprise performance management solutions, has created a roadmap to assist leaders with key considerations and practical steps to deliver transformative outcomes while refreshing enterprise performance management platforms. The Jedox service supports businesses with planning, monitoring and assessing future operational systems.

This roadmap helps businesses with planning, monitoring and future operating models.

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Cloudera Cloud Technology

Oracle Cloud announces new data science and machine learning services

by Mike Jones 05/03/2020

Oracle recently confirmed the launch of its Cloud Data Science Platform, a new service based on the Oracle Cloud Infrastructure with the capability to enable data scientists to manage the development, deployment and operations of machine learning processes.

The foundations of the new cloud data platform originate from the previous acquisition of DataScience.com, an acquisition made by Oracle in 2018 offering centralised access to data science tools, projects and infrastructure within the workplace. The new solution emphasises Oracle’s effort on implementing artificial intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) into its cloud systems.

The focus of the cloud data science platform is based around the Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Data Science service, offering data scientists the skills to develop, train and manage machine learning algorithms on the Oracle Cloud. The new systems will also provide the potential to share projects, manage model catalogs and security policies. 

Greg Pavlik, the senior VP of product development at Oracle Data and AI services explains that the new system will improve the productivity of data scientists by automating workflows and adding further support for collaboration, allowing data science to deliver more value for businesses.

Holger Mueller, principal analyst and VP at Constellation Research stated that Data Scientists are critical in support the rise of innovation systems that incorporate the benefits of AI and ML. Mueller explains that all cloud infrastructure vendors are looking to simplify the process for data scientists to develop AI and ML-focused applications

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Benefits of Anaplan and Adaptive Insights

Predictive Analytics essential to prepare for potential economic downturn

by Mike Jones 05/03/2020

A combination of ongoing trade discussions with the US and Europe, a confirmed Brexit in the UK and the recent implications of the coronavirus outbreak have accelerated the levels of uncertainty for many businesses worldwide. Findings from the latest Global CEO survey from PWC suggest that over half of CEOs believe the pace of global economic development will slow throughout this year. As consequence investment plans are taking a more cautious approach as businesses prepare themselves for a potential economic decline.

This rising uncertainty within the industry can be challenging, particularly for sales professionals who are expected to support driving businesses forward by generating new and effective revenue streams while companies prepare for a potential downturn. Sales professionals are expected to introduce innovative sales strategies to reveal new insights and enable potential revenue expansion without incurring further expense.

Jason Loh, the global head of sales solutions at Anaplan believes that the expected downturn in investment is creating further pressure on sales leaders. Loh strongly believes that predictive and AI technology provides great opportunities to enhance their sales strategies and improve sales potential for businesses.

Standard manual and time-consuming activities require extensive research and management. New and innovative systems are enabling sales professionals to focus their time and skills on specific areas and utilise targeted insights to make efficient decisions on business resources.

Managing accounts with the support of AI and predictive sales planning tools means internal systems can be augmented and sales leaders can leverage the qualities of analytics to identify key accounts with high revenue potential. 

Larger and complex businesses can also be challenging in terms of identifying where new opportunities may develop. In today’s business world, companies need to be flexible and prepared to adapt quickly. The insight-focused approach to sales has supported large businesses by reducing the time allocated in data management and enable skilled professionals to spend more time identifying new opportunities to improve business performance.

Having the capacity to predict future scenarios, review potential outcomes, and creating plans to manage this can enable decision-makers to be more prepared and implement real-time measures to enhance sales performance. Loh emphasises that as companies continue to enter new markets and competition intensifies, a structured sales plan is critical in terms of delivering a solid pipeline and potentially losing revenue. Loh believes that having the ability to plan a range of scenarios, fuelled by predictive tools can really strengthen sales professionals able to create and manage their approach to delivering sales strategies.

During this period of economic uncertainty, generating clear insights and having the ability to be adaptable is critical for business success. For sales professionals, the pressure is being placed on implementing the right decision to generate the most effective results.

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Data and Analytics in the finance industry

The importance of data and analytics for modern finance leaders

by Mike Jones 25/02/2020

In today’s business world, the modern CFO and Financial Director are expected to deliver more than standard financial reporting and focus on strategy and technology decisions that drive business performance.

According to the ‘Digital transformation beyond financial management’ report by Sage, over 90% of senior decision-makers stated that their position had changed considerably over the last few years, with approximately 60% saying they are responsible for digital transformation.

Anish Kapoor, the CEO of AccessPay explains that modern finance leaders need to focus on data and analytics and what influence it will have on business performance. Standard reporting on progress isn’t sufficient anymore for successful businesses. Financial leaders need to be more proactive and measure how certain variables will influence business performance.

Financial leaders are exploring new techniques to make their financial duties more efficient for their business. This isn’t only from an economic perspective, but enabling more time for employees to focus on other important and strategic duties to drive digital transformation.

CFOs and Financial Directors are focusing on using innovative automated technology to reduce the time spent on manual, time-consuming tasks that have traditionally taken up a lot of time within a business. A recent report in the Sunday Times highlighted that one in three CEOs have concerns whether their CFOs are equipped and prepared for the potential challenges lying ahead. Kapoor believes that new technology such as automation is not expanding as quickly within the finance department. Kapoor highlights that every business is facing mounting pressure to generate more from a lower cost base and that the finance industry is falling behind in terms of adopting new technologies to improve productivity.

There are a number of new technologies available to finance leaders to enhance efficiency. Kapoor explains that businesses are utilising a number of the most effective technology solutions available out there in order to drive overall business efficiency and productivity.

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