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July 6, 2015

Fujitsu CTO: Redefine your business with Big Data

Dr. Joseph Reger, CTO, Fujitsu Global Business spoke to CBR about why it's disconcerting that there aren't more businesses using data and analytics, and why it's not necessary to get rid of your legacy system.

By James Nunns

Speaking to Reger at Fujitsu’s World Tour, the conversation around data analytics started with a question from Reger about what happened to the rocks that were collected on the moon in the 60’s and 70’s?

The answer is that some of them were catalogued but most of them weren’t looked at – Big Data is similar in that regard, "People are collecting data and that’s it," said Reger.

While he has nothing against that, it is important to try and make sense of the data you’ve collected.

Reger believes that there is enough evidence to support the claim that Big Data and analytics can redefine your business, but is concerned that it isn’t being used more: "It’s disconcerting that it’s done so rarely."

Big Data should be the goal for businesses and Reger encourages its use, even if it angers middle management.

"You have to have a small group of rebels who are willing to break everything around them and ask these hard questions, even if it doesn’t necessarily fit well with the wishes of middle management and business planning for the next quarter."

Businesses which have started using Big Data have been doing so in small and controlled groups, something that he doesn’t agree with.

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"I think start-ups are about to prove that that’s not the right way to do it.

"The start-ups are proving that you’ve got to believe in it from the very beginning, to bet the farm and land on it – and if it works then you can break through."

Admitting that he is ‘radical’ in this sense, he feels that this is something that Fujitsu is helping customers to do, but not by outsourcing.

Instead, he wants Fujitsu and businesses to sit down and do it together.

Reger see’s the real point of data as discovering something that’s surprising, something that the business didn’t think of.

"That’s the value of the collection of data and data analysis, to create a context for the data and try to understand something entirely new about it."

Data can be applied to the digitalisation of business and other sectors such as healthcare, which Reger says Europe needs to focus on or face the consequences: "If we are slow in Europe – then we have a problem."

As countries in Europe spend 10-12% of GDP on healthcare, he sees that digitalisation could help to shave off potentially 20%. This would mean that governments would have about 2% extra percentage points of GDP.

While he understands that the data is sensitive he argues that it could be shared with your physician to provide better healthcare.

"That needs to be done. I would argue that here in the EU we need to have some sort of framework for that, I hesitate to say regulation."

What he would like to see is a framework which provides privacy and data protection but gives freedom to do the right thing in an end to end healthcare planning environment."

"It will only work well if it is end to end – you don’t need these zillion sources of data stored about all aspects of life."

To cope with these vast amounts of data, many businesses are looking to move away from legacy systems, but that is not necessary.

"There’s nothing wrong with trying to rescue a legacy system. Embed them or integrate them with new mobile applications system navigation."

However, he has a warning to those that try to bed the traditional IT to do all the foundation work and most of the platform work for new systems.

"It’s so much work and it makes the current system so complex that it might not pay off. It might become very unwieldy to manage and become expensive."

Reger advises that a project should always be done with consultancies which can look at and analyse what can and can’t be done. This does not mean that one extreme or the other is the right way to go about it.

"What is certainly true is that neither of the extreme statements of, everything sites on legacy or we don’t need legacy at all, are true."

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