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Analytics Ahead, in the Clouds?

Friday 15 April 2016

Let us rewind two decades to the year 1996. A time of intense emotional distress when Take That parted ways, compounded by the debut single ‘Wannabe’ from the Spice Girls, laughs when watching Rachel Green’s controversial touchdown and awe at that Paul Gascoigne goal. If you were asked about the impact of the ‘cloud’ on your business in this rollercoaster year, your response would have most likely focused on the rain instead of analytics in the cloud.

While many were understandably distracted, the term ‘cloud computing’ has been tracked down to the very same year, inspiring what has now become a staple internet buzzword and subsequent evolution into a viable technological platform.

Overcast Your Mind Forward: Analytics in the Cloud

Today, the internet is flooded with diverse implementations. Microsoft Outlook describes attaching a file to an email (rather than uploading to a cloud server) as the ‘classic, old-school method’, Sony have made huge investments in their cloud-based gaming service and the steadily increasing number of Chromebook sales point to a shift in how consumers perceive and interact with the internet as a whole.

With such a wide range of uses it is little wonder that companies have sought to expand. However, aiming to stretch the online capabilities to analytics in the cloud alongside more traditional storage-based solutions comes with a new array of potential problems.

Potentially Cirrus Issues

Speed and ease of implementation is a key area where basing analytics in the cloud serves to add extra complications to the deployment process. While CXAIR is built around rapid implementation, the fact remains that it is not a simple task to incorporate cloud-based software into an already established system. This is before considering the maintenance costs and extra training required for the solution to remain operational.

Another issue is privacy. Of course, handing over your data to a remote server has huge security implications, made painfully obvious to the victims who can rightfully blame glaring security oversights that lead to the infamous Apple iCloud hacking of 2014. How can businesses be sure that their data is stored beyond unimpeachable security systems when the world’s most valuable company was unknowingly allowing hackers to access personal customer data?

Microsoft were also recently embarrassed by their apparent data naivety when their attempt at creating an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot, able to autonomously interact with Twitter users, ended catastrophically. While this is not a security issue, it is still an example of another technology giant failing to control and restrict the use of their own data uploaded to their own ‘cloud’.

Reigny Day for Technology Giants?

This has not stopped Google joining other big companies in embracing the cloud as their newest platform for expansion, ushering in a new era of internet competition. Could it be that the big names in technology have forgotten the importance of return on investment (ROI) that is so important to businesses the world over? With the initial time investments and subsequent maintenance, basing analytics in the cloud may inflate the price far beyond competitors.

With an ever-increasing plethora of business intelligence (BI) and analytical platforms in direct competition with one another, the perceived necessity to innovate, evolve and offer increasingly complex software solutions is a trend that does not offer consumers any real value. The NHS, for example, is an organisation that requires immediate improvements to unify their data that analytics in the cloud simply cannot provide due to the sensitivity of the information.

The subsequent buzz-words surrounding analytics in the cloud may allude to solutions that can miraculously resolve data woes when, in fact, focussing on the immediate uses may prove far more effective. The unification of structured and unstructured data is just the start of a journey for some, and keeping sensitive information secure may prove a barrier too far for those in healthcare.

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