Considering its sheer size and scope, this year's Big Telecom Event in Chicago got incredibly specific when it came to areas of expertise and the topics that were discussed in the series of panels on the state of the industry. Cloud hosting professionals from all over the world participated in these sessions, and the afternoon of the conference's first day started on a fascinating note with "The Customer-Drive Telco: Real-time Analytics, Big Data and CEM" panel moderated by Heavy Reading senior analyst Ari Banerjee.
Participants included: Adan Pope, CTO of business unit support solutions, Ericsson; Amy Millard, vice president of marketing for Support.com; Sid Harshavat, security architect for Symantec; and Kevin McGinnis, vice president of development and operations for Pinsight Media at Sprint. Here are some of the major takeaways from the hour-long discussion about providing for customers in an ever-changing industry.
Improving business efficiency with big data
It's difficult to talk about cloud hosting on a major scale without bringing up the emerging uses of big data - the problem, the panelists discussed, was how to use this technology in an intelligent way to better service their customers and their own bottom lines.
"The challenge isn't big data, it's turning big data into analytics into action," Pope said, commenting on the best ways for companies to structure this massive labyrinth of a system.
His fellow panelists seemed to agree - much of the conversation, directed by Banerjee, revolved around different approaches to the cloud and transitioning information into a big data, infrastructure, which has caused many companies difficulty in the past. Pope was an advocate of organizing these cloud servers horizontally, though this tactic tends to take more time than it does to simply "dump" the information into a new data structure. McGinnis was quick to concur, stating that while big data is the future for many businesses, it presents a "potentially catastrophic" security issue for those who do not organize their data before making the switch.
Millard posed a solution to this persistent issue while giving her take on the matter, proposing that analytics would be a helpful thing to integrate into the big data transition earlier in the process. She said that while the emerging Internet of Things is developing, it certainly isn't perfect - in a future where she predicted customers will be carrying even more devices than they are now, companies must adjust their views on big data management.
"Organizationally, bringing analytics teams in earlier during development [would be useful]," she commented to a flurry of nods from her fellow panelists.
Managing customer service and cloud security
Though all four panelists agreed that big data will continue to be a major player in the industry, they expressed a common concern for what this meant for cloud security. Harshavat said that this issue can be viewed one of two ways - on one hand, it's a challenge to get a vendor and a consumer on the same page, but on the other, it's a great opportunity for the security industry to turn this disconnect into knowledge and revenue.
"If you're a security guy, this is the best time," he affirmed. "If you want to make something real good, real innovative, now is the time."
While those who make use of big data wait for these developments to emerge, McGinnis shared the three areas of data security he kept at the front of his mind when dealing with consumers using cloud hosting services. He defined these categories as transparency, choice/control and security. In short, he structured the way he serviced his customers by making it clear why the company required private information to provide a quality service, then giving them the choice to provide this information and the opportunity to ask further questions and finally addressing security to specify what their service will do to ensure data protection.
Harshavat supported this stance, but noted that there needs to be a change in consumer awareness regarding cloud security before big data solutions will be completely effective.
"I still believe the consumer needs to be educated enough to know how that data is used for him or her, so that data could be used to be proactive," the security architect said.
Overall, the conversation put emphasis not on a gap in technological development, but on the level of knowledge necessary to make these systems standard in the years to come. While professionals like Pope, Millard, Harshavat and McGinnis continue to develop the product experience, a positive internet for small business solution is to arm staff with knowledge before new systems are implemented.
After taking a sprinkling of questions from the audience, Banerjee concluded the panel discussion, leaving attendees a lot to think about before heading over to the next fact-packed event. Full Cbeyond recaps of the Big Telecom Event in Chicago will continue throughout the week!