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August 14, 2015updated 25 Aug 2016 6:01pm

IBM’s big Big Data play goes beyond scratching the surface of data analytics

C-level briefing: Andrew Wilcock, VP, Business Analytics, on how Big Blue is thinking big.

By James Nunns

IBM has a big big data play through which it is aiming to be relevant to all market sectors.

The company released 20 industry solutions as it targets getting its analytics embedded into all areas of the maturing Big Data market.

Andrew Wilcock, VP analytics at IBM UK identified the cross industry nature of the solutions.

"Fraud analytics is obviously going to be more applicable to banking, but equally it could also apply to an insurance customer, it could also apply to a banking customer. It’s trying to understand what the business problem is that we are trying to solve."

A separate problem that faces businesses is data integration; Wilcock described it as a "core consideration". With data often being spread far and wide in different systems; it can be difficult to get it to where you need it to be.

Data integration is clearly an important issue to the company, moves such as enhancing compatibility with Oracle suggest that this is a long term strategy.

Wilcock said other challenges exist such as how the data is cleansed and then how to provide the predictive capability around that data.

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However, despite these challenges he highlighted that: "The most important thing is understanding what the client wants to do with that data."

Wilcock was keen to stress a number of times during the interview that it wants to offer something that is relevant and to understand what the customer needs. What he sees in the UK market is a need to tailor analytics to what the organisation or consumer wants to achieve.

"That can be anything from predictive capability, real time insight, it could be having a Big Data platform whether it be a traditional Big Data platform on a data warehouse or whether it’s leveraging some of the open source capability around Hadoop and Spark."

"The reality is one size doesn’t fit all."

The plan for IBM to be involved in everything is likely to continue with Wilcock highlighting the company’s investment in its broad ecosystem and solutions such as Bluemix which it invested $1bn in last year.

Understanding where the Big Data market is heading is something that companies will be keen to identify so that they can be ready to capitalise on it. IBM is no different and Wilcock thinks they are just scratching the surface.

"We’re scratching the surface of the opportunity that analytics in general can offer organisations.

"I definitely think there are more capabilities to it and I think as we continue to work with a multitude of different clients, we’re finding different use cases and different opportunities to work with them on almost a daily basis."

Speaking about Big Blue’s go to market strategy he identified that businesses have invested in traditional IT infrastructure for perhaps the past 30 years. He believes the trick is to extend the value of that investment to enable an organisation to: "Leverage the data that they’ve got both internally in the organisation and also externally."

With data being seen as a current natural resource, IBM wants to enable organisations to take advantage of their data, which is something he identifies as a broad challenge across the marketplace.

Approaching companies comes in a number of different ways. It is about understanding the industry and what is relevant to it and then finding a set of cases that the client wants to do.

"Certainly it’s by going in at a project based level, it’s where we can be more relevant and demonstrate more value quickly to the client, which is fundamentally important."

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