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IT Briefcase Exclusive Interview: Maximizing Data Discovery and Visualization with TIBCO’s Steve Farr

April 22, 2013 No Comments

In the below interview, Steve Farr from TIBCO discusses trends that have emerged in data management over the last decade, and highlights the ultimate business value of being able to analyze data in real time from anywhere in the world.

  • Q. How have you seen data management change over the last 10 years with the evolution of Big Data and Cloud Computing?

A. The most obvious area that everyone talks about has been assimilating data from the web into the organization. This has taught us a lot about Big Data, though even greater challenges lie ahead as we try to make sense of the unstructured world and the mobile world. I think it’s funny how we always move from capture, to store, to understand: if we only asked up front what we want from data then we could formulate our capture and storage requirements up front.

  • Q. In your opinion, why do so many companies not realize the valuable data that hides within their networks?

A. I’m not so sure that this data is hiding, rather that is has acquired the label “too difficult”. This label applies to all sorts of data that either doesn’t fit with the traditional SQL or OLAP database models, or differs so radically in its structure that traditional BI tools cannot extract value from it.  For example, we have seen the digitization of many types of control devices such as, temperature and pressure gauges, and all manner of sensors. The data these devices produce is valuable for real-time monitoring and control, but for BI the streams they produce are hard to fathom. This is an area where dimension-free “data discovery” tools have a decided edge over the older BI technologies with their need to put everything into cubes.

  • Q. What advice can you offer to businesses trying to juggle the increased speed, volume, and variety of data that Big Data brings to the table?

A. The main advice I would offer is not to ask yesterday’s generals to fight today’s wars. Big Data has created a wave of innovation, and we can wait for our old infrastructure vendors to catch up and hope they can retrofit solutions into their old products, or we can try to seize a competitive edge now and embrace the new technology. We know a few things for certain: change is not going away; change is getting faster; and faster change is exploding the complexity and volume of data. The idea that we can wait for a steady state to prevail and invest then with 100% confidence is anathema. In the Big Data world the early adopter holds all the aces.

  • Q. What do you view as the ultimate business value of being able to analyze data in “real time” from anywhere and at any time of day?

A. This is an interesting question. When we produce a quarterly or monthly report it is usually to fit some kind of review of the business that is held quarterly or monthly: we have decided, for example, that we need to look at our DSO numbers monthly and adjust the policies of the accounts receivable function to gain a favorable result over the following  month. This is appropriate because we judge that we cannot affect a faster outcome owing to the credit terms we offer our customers and the time is will take to implement any policy changes. The value of analyzing data in real time will therefore only come about if we can effect a real-time action or event in the business: the reaction needs to be appropriate to the analysis. If businesses want to invest is real-time analytics they must ask themselves whether the reaction to these analytics also needs to be real-time. An example here might be a dropped cell-phone call. Real-time analytics could create an action that instantly updates the cell via SMS with a credit and maybe an apology. The telco needs to ask themselves whether that gives them competitive advantage over the rival that prints a credit on the monthly bill.

  • Q. How does the latest version of TIBCO’s data discovery and visualization platform, TIBCO Spotfire 5.5, work to dramatically increase the value of existing corporate data assets?

A. With Spotfire 5.5, enterprises not only maximize corporate investment through a unified approach to simultaneously work with data in-memory and directly query a wide variety of data systems and engines, but users now have the best of both worlds: self-service analytics plus central data access management.  Spotfire 5.5 also integrates with Teradata Aster, TIBCO DataSynapse GridServer® and TIBCO BusinessEvents™, giving enterprises the ability to use predictive analytics for real-time events and big data insights.  And finally but significantly, Spotfire 5.5 offers a new set of visualization and analysis capabilities to manage the business by exception, and deliver fast, powerful and contextual insights to business users.

  • Q. In what ways will TIBCO’s recent acquisition of Maporama work to increase the value of the cloud and social software products you are currently offering to your customers?

A. This is an extremely exciting acquisition and we are delighted with reaction from the market. The first integration work will be within Spotfire to enable our customers to leverage location intelligence and geospatial analytics. From there we will use the Maporama technology to enhance the geospatial capabilities of products like Tibbr, our enterprise collaboration platform, and Loyalty Lab which helps companies manage customer interactions. We are also delighted to be able to offer cloud-based maps and geo-related data services such as census type data.

  • Q. Can you please give us a few examples of how TIBCO products and services are successfully being implemented today?

A. On our website you can find lots of case studies from companies utilizing TIBCO products to gain competitive advantage. Here are a few:

– Delta Airlines use TIBCO to bring them real-time data helping avoid the issues of gate changes and delays
– Supported by TIBCO´s complex event processing (CEP) technology, Vodafone estimates that the company is about 80% more productive
– BAE Systems uses TIBCO Nimbus to accelerate Financial Shared Services transformation
– One month after deploying the TIBCO software, Citibank Asia saw a 21% increase in customer spend

Steve Farr, Sr. Marketing Manager, TIBCO

Steve Farr joined TIBCO in 2012 after running his own consultancy business advising Microsoft channel partners on emerging technologies. This followed 7 years at Microsoft itself in a variety of roles. Prior to Microsoft Steve worked for Royal Dutch Shell in London specializing in data warehousing and master data management.  Steve has a Masters in Strategy from Henley Management College.


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