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NetApp helps firms harness big data for edge
November 8, 2018 News big data


The technology firm is helping customers in banking, government, manufacturing and other sectors to harness the power of big data for a new competitive edge using hybrid-cloud computing facilities.

According to Henri Richard, an executive vice president of NetApp, about 55 per cent of the data fabric and hybrid-cloud business is currently in the US and North America, while the share of Asia Pacific has been growing rapidly to around 15 per cent of the total.

A survey of more than 800 firms worldwide has shown that data is increasingly seen as a new class of assets, making it the key competitive advantage that differentiates data-driven enterprises from the rest of competitors.

In banking, for example, data-driven lending platforms are emerging in Thailand and other countries as banks and non-banks aim to tap large numbers of small retail and business customers, using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) software.

This allows lenders to provide a much faster loan service but mistakes and bad loans are 20 per cent less.

Other sectors such as e-commerce, retail, automotive manufacturing, and healthcare are also turning to adopt a data-driven strategy to drive business growth.

In Thailand, NetApp works with 23 local partners to help customers adopt the data fabric and hybrid-cloud computing strategy.

NetApp also partners with China’s Alicloud, AWS and other service providers to serve customers in Thailand and other Asean countries.

Meanwhile, George Kurian, the CEO of NetApp, told the recent NetApp Insight 2018 conference that speed is now the new scale of doing business, citing US retail giant Walmart and online gaming company Fortnite as examples.

Previously, it took Walmart 50 years to reach one billion of customers in the US and other markets, but Fortnite recently achieved a total of 120 million users in just one year.

As a result, time to market has to be much faster today and this can be done with the adoption of a cloud-based and data-driven business strategy as competition is now shaped by demographic changes and a global widespread use of mobile devices.

According to Kurian, enterprises have to re-think the value of massive consumer and other data along with the use of AI and ML software to drive business growth and create new opportunities.

The new IT architecture is exemplified by a growing adoption of hybrid multi-clouds while data centres are becoming the so-called data fabrics in all data are integrated by AI and ML, he said, adding that data in separate silos are no longer practical.

According to Kurian, AI and ML are also a crucial part of the competitive advantage for edge computing in Internet of Things (IoTs) devices as well as in core and cloud-based computing.

For example, banks with a data-driven lending platform can instantly do credit analysis on potential customers using the big data or can offer interest rates on an individual basis to customers based on their personal risk profiles and other data.

Insurance companies can also use AI and ML programmes to price their healthcare policies based on individual risk profiles derived from wearable devices such as Apple Watch along with patient and hospital data.

In addition, genomic data analytics based on comparison with parents’ genes is also practical using the cloud-based facilities to allow an assessment of risks concerning key diseases or can be used by drug companies to develop more precision medicine for individual patients and certain race groups.

Other use cases include those for supply chain optimisation and retail sector as well as e-government services for driver’s licenses, tax payment, education, and cyber security.

In the end, Kurian said a successful data driven strategy leads to more efficiency and a new competitive advantage as well as increased profits. In other words, data is the new oil, while AI is the electricity and IoT the new nerve centre, according to futurist Gerd Leonhard, who spoke at the NetApp Insight 2018 conference, adding that today’s smart mobile devices are like humans’ external brain as they serve as wallets, storage of health and other crucial data.