The True Value of Big Data

Posted: October 19th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

There’s no denying that one of the biggest trends in IT right now is Big Data. While there are many different ways to describe it, perhaps the most commonly agreed upon, and my personal favorite, is that it must encompass the three “Vs”: volume, velocity and variety. How organisations understand and embrace these concepts varies—but I think we can all agree on one thing – there is a lot of data being generated quickly from various sources. I’ve found that one of the biggest questions organisations are asking though (which adds a fourth “V” to the equation) is: How do we derive value from Big Data?

Real-time (or near real-time) predictive analytics are gaining in popularity, and may hold the key to realising Big Data’s true value. In his keynote presentation at OpenWorld, Joe Tucci, CEO of EMC Corporation, stated that: “Real-time predictive analytics will be the killer app for this cloud era.” Personally, I could not agree more and think that this points in precisely the right direction, not just for cloud but for all businesses dealing with data.

One of the main benefits is gaining a strategic understanding of customers and the overall business ecosystem. But the key is going beyond simply collecting information, or even the ability to store and process it. The way organisations can truly realise Big Data’s potential is by leveraging it to predict behaviours and market changes, and make smarter business decisions based on that knowledge.

What exactly those actions are will depends a bit on the case—for communications service providers, it may be policy management activities or real-time, location-based marketing campaigns. And as many are already noticing, decision-making with predictive modeling can have huge benefits.

In short, I believe we must indeed look at Big Data not as a thing that happens, but as a process we act upon – through contextual predictive analytics-driven actions. Enabling these insights is important to Comptel and something we’re continually working towards by combining analytics with our high-performance mediation and fulfillment platform. If I must confess, I am really excited about what we are seeing and doing here, and the benefits we can offer to our customers!


Reflections on LTE Advanced – Part One

Posted: April 27th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights, Telecom Trends | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

When following the hot industry trends, I found a lot of excitement around LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) and wanted to share my thoughts on this emerging technology.

So what is LTE-A?

Well, in the simplest of terms, it’s the latest advancement in radio technology that will put one Gigabits/s bandwidth (or 1000 megabits/s) to your mobile device of choice, whether it’s a laptop, dongle, tablet or smartphone (and eventually feature phone). Network rollouts will occur once the technology is proven in trials and compatible devices are available.

For comparison, you can get up to 100 megabits/s through LTE technology and up to 24 megabits/s with ADSL technology. The bandwidth that LTE-A enables is similar to the fastest speeds from Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) technology and about three times faster than that of cable. It is also approved by the International Telecommunications Union as the true 4G technology irrespective of what industry marketing and some communications service providers (CSPs) are saying about LTE and DC-HSPA. Globally, we are just deploying LTE infrastructure, and thus, LTE-A will have its first major deployments sometime in the future.

Some Perspective

While the maximum speed will most likely be very theoretical, at least in the beginning, the technology promises to provide all of the bandwidth we need without wiring everything together physically, allowing for true mobility. To put that bandwidth into perspective, one HD quality video stream can consume up to tens of megabits per second depending on the encoding/decoding technology used. This would then decide how much of the CPU and graphics chip on your device would be used and how much battery life they consume on decoding the video feed. The less bandwidth that is consumed (and hence tighter compression used in video encoding), the more work the CPU and graphics chip will have to do, and more battery will be consumed. In theory, you would not need much video compression with LTE-A, as there is plenty of capacity and hence less demand on battery, CPUs and other chip development needs. Think about several HD video channels being streamed to your device and having the ability to use other services in parallel. It would also enable higher upload speeds, so your multi-megapixel DSLR pictures could be streamed to your cloud storage or photostream of choice in near real time.

Is there really a need for this much bandwidth?

I’ve witnessed first-hand that once more bandwidth is available, it will get used. Remember the times of MS-DOS and the famous statement that 640 kB of memory is enough for everything? I’m feeling a bit old here, but seriously, we are masters of consuming 97% of our hard drives, for example, no matter what the capacity is—and the same applies to bandwidth. With recent advancements in HD displays in relatively small form factor (e.g. retina display in the new Apple iPad), it’s almost guaranteed we will consume available bandwidth. I’d think, however, that with such bandwidth, the need for large local storage on devices becomes less important, especially as cloud storage is becoming more affordable. Hence, we will see more video-enabled devices with minimal, built-in storage capacity.

LTE-A sounds promising, right? In my next post, I’ll discuss this technology further and highlight some areas where there’s room for improvement.