Is Your Data Cloud Ready?

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1 WHITE PAPER Is Your Data Cloud Ready? Of all the questions to be answered before taking advantage of the cloud, this one is the most pertinent; is my data cloud ready? The question is especially important when you are making data and other services available to external parties. In this paper, we propose some answers. This is the first in a series of papers in which we examine the challenges and opportunities associated with data in the cloud and effective solutions for managing it. 1 cgi.com 2014 CGI GROUP INC.

2 INTRODUCTION For years, organizations have been leveraging the Internet to find relevant information. Today, there is an increasing use of data made available in the cloud (e.g., open data) to enhance enterprise information systems for better analysis and decision-making. Enterprise information systems can better leverage data in the cloud by implementing enterprise search capabilities that are not limited to traditional information retrieval methods. This is becoming critical as the cloud evolves into one of the largest sources of big data. The volume, velocity, variety and veracity of data that an organization can end up having to deal with require solutions that integrate cloud and enterprise data in an effective and efficient manner. Enterprise search capabilities can then be used to enable data initiatives that would not otherwise be possible. Organizations with this viewpoint are investing in transforming their business architectures to benefit from innovations in technology, applications and information. They know how they will succeed and have a razor-sharp focus on being the best. Big data: When do you have it? As soon as you start collecting and interfacing with data from the cloud, including non-structured data such as images, videos, etc., that s when you reach big data levels. Improved Innovation Real Estate Optimized Customer Supply Demand Management Logistics Marketing Chain Public Relations Retention Billing Tax Loyalty Improved Brand Order Fulfillment Cross-Sell Growth Flawless Management Account Receivable Business Customer Attract Sales Optimization Service Retain Advertising expansion Up-Sell Inventory Supply Management Right Talent intimacy Satisfaction driver Management existing Throughput Product geographic Customer Service Procurement Governance Financial Management Human Resources Business Planning TRADITIONAL WEB SEARCH APPROACHES ARE MISSING THE MARK Though it is often the first method people think of when looking to pull information from the cloud, you cannot rely on a Web-like search engine to gather what you need. This is due to the complicated characteristics of the data organizations work with today. These can be summed up as the four Vs of big data: Volume: As easy as it is to collect data from many different sources, the end result can be an extremely high volume to manage. Velocity: Automated scraping and user-generated content are just two examples of trends driving the velocity of data processing in the cloud. Variety: Consumers have also added to the variety of data. For example, social media content creation has grown exponentially and resulted in text-, video- and audio-based data. All of this moves at a velocity that renders it unmanageable. Veracity: Finally, in cases where data will be used to drive business value, its veracity takes on special importance, creating the need for powerful, discriminating tools. Every time users search for specific information and get results far beyond what they require, time is required to sort through the irrelevant data. This wasted time is not avoided even when the content is properly tagged how many man-hours were invested in this administrative task? How many more will have to be invested to keep up with content creation? Do you have conformity across the organization in how this is done? 2

3 There may be no way to plan for an end to the process, and subsequently, all that gets accomplished is giving users more context-free keywords to search through. Even contentdriven searches using tags will eventually grow beyond usability, and we re back at square one. Find what you re looking for? Every time users search for specific information and get results far beyond what they require, time is required to sort through the irrelevant data. This wasted time is not avoided even when the content is properly tagged. The cloud addresses infrastructure requirements resulting from the explosion of data. Its success in meeting these requirements has positioned it as a strategic alternative for enterprise data storage. Getting the right slice of data to drive business value is an increasing challenge organizations face. A basic, traditional search engine approach will increasingly fail to provide sufficient information to meet your information needs. WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT FROM SEARCH RESULTS? The quality of search capabilities can be determined by precision and recall metrics, which measure the relevance of accessible and available information. Precision is the fraction of retrieved data that is relevant. Recall is the fraction of relevant data that is retrieved. Improvements in terms of both precision and recall will have a material impact on the outcomes an organization is seeking to generate. PUBLIC SECTOR For example, it is essential for government organizations to provide services to the right individuals. Precision and recall capabilities are vital. They allow government departments to reach individuals with the highest need at the right time. Recall helps to ensure no individuals are missed, while precision ensures services are provided to those who would benefit the most. PRIVATE SECTOR Private sector firms enjoy similar benefits by understanding who their potential customers are and the probability of converting them into actual customers. In the absence of search capabilities that are strong in terms of precision and recall, firms can overestimate or underestimate the market potential of their products and services. ENTERPRISE DATA IS NOT AUTOMATICALLY CLOUD READY AND WHAT ABOUT YOUR ORGANIZATION ITSELF? Large organizations often don t realize the implications of producing data for or consuming data from the cloud, particularly when this production or consumption is associated with big data. A common reply when (and if) the issue of cloud readiness is brought up is, Our 3

4 databases aren t that big! For this kind of planner, cloud hosting means hosting elsewhere and paying for a Software as a Service (SaaS) or Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), reflecting an out-of-sight, out-of-mind attitude. Yes, traditional databases aren t that big, but, as discussed above, as soon as you start collecting and interfacing with data from the cloud, including non-structured data such as images, videos, etc., that s when you reach big data levels. Additionally, there is no benefit to a data integration and/or migration of any size unless your organization has made the necessary preparations to deal with the results. It is imperative to have a set of clear business drivers and requirements from the start that address the following: How will the content be used as we go forward? What are the expected benefits from this use? Who needs to access it, and how will this be accomplished efficiently yet safely? Decision-makers within the organization also must have the flexibility and motivation to use cloud-based data sources to drive their business. Adopting a cloud-based approach means being ready to tailor your strategies using the insights gleaned from the data you wield. Proper social media monitoring, for example, can help you keep abreast of forums and conversations relevant to your organization and even shape it to an extent. IS YOUR ORGANIZATION READY TO SEED THE CLOUD TO INFLUENCE ITS VALUE POTENTIAL? There can be no return on your investment unless you have a plan for creating Web visibility for your content and influencing the content that is already in the cloud. Because traditional search methods are failing to adequately perform, you need to lay out an effective way of connecting to users, customers, suppliers, etc. How do I know the cloud is right for me? There are several ways to ensure a smooth evolution to harnessing the cloud s value potential: Start with insight into whether this is even rig for your needs. Know what tools are at your disposal Find out when it s appropriate to move to each step Scout around for who can lend you their prior expertise. How will you maintain your visibility? After all, organizations that fail to offer relevant content and keep it accurate, up to date and accessible are quick to drop off the radar. You may need to look at different content ingestion and collection models. For example: You may choose to integrate new content from your enterprise information systems to the cloud using a "push model" approach. Or, you may want to take a "pull model" approach and make your data available for a web crawler to find it and then make it accessible through search engines. Another alternative is disseminating your content through a rich site summary (RSS) feed, with full or summarized text plus metadata. Finally, perhaps your organization itself is simply not there yet. Stakeholders may be having trouble clearly defining who is going to own the cloud-based data initiative. There may be different priorities competing for top spot in which case something will have to be deferred. Or, perhaps the way your content is currently organized opens the door to issues of noncompliance with existing privacy policies/regulations or infrastructure concerns? Supply chains, for example, need to be agile enough to adapt to real-time data. Cloud data also needs to be of high enough quality and secure enough to be useful. Breaches are disastrous to image, without even getting into the more concrete losses incurred. There are a few ways to ensure successful outcomes, starting with insight into whether this is even right for your needs. Know what tools are at your disposal, when it s appropriate to 4

5 move to each step, and who you can lend you their prior expertise for a smooth evolution to harnessing the cloud s value potential. WORKING YOUR WAY TO A SUCCESSFUL INTEGRATION, MIGRATION AND ADOPTION PROCESS An inventory of the data handling measures available to you should figure in your game plan as early as possible in order to have a clearer view of your objective. For example, several successes have been built on using data mash-ups to communicate with end users. Mash-ups are Web applications or pages that use and combine data, presentation or functionality from two or more sources to create new services. Ensuring a successful transition By having different parts of your data intersect or correlate in meaningful ways with other publically available sources, you can create tremendous value. By having different parts of your data intersect or correlate in meaningful ways with other publically available sources, you can create tremendous value. Or, use Pipes, a powerful composition tool to aggregate, manipulate and mash-up content from the Web so that you can produce the all-important original content/associations that justify managing your data in the cloud. Top off the previous methods with search engine capabilities and that s when you arrive at a searchable high-level content store. This will facilitate making relevant content available and could translate into higher precision and recall in contrast with traditional search approaches. You also have to ensure, pre-transition, that your data is shaped properly for cloud readiness. Get experts involved and run a checklist with points covering topics such as the following: DATA GOVERNANCE How are you handling data quality and privacy/security? What is your need for metadata, and what is your strategy for generating it? OPPORTUNITY IDENTIFICATION How are you mapping business value creation opportunities to big data and the cloud? Traditional business acumen modernizes quite easily here with the proper guidance. 5

6 ASSET PROTECTION How are you protecting your assets from threats that exist in the cloud? Once again enlist expert opinions and conduct a review of potential providers policies and infrastructures. VALUE INGESTION How are you changing in response to the value that is being created? Are you fundamentally equipped to change? What would you view as a proper choice to follow at hypothetical crossroads reached through the advances of widely disseminated and judiciously nourished data? This is an essential part of your long-term plan because keeping the cloud management team in a silo defeats the entire purpose. It all comes down to a basic point; a cloud-based initiative must be legitimized by its contributions to business outcomes. Carefully consider its many potential pitfalls, as well as its potential rewards. You need proper analysis, planning and execution to pull it off to maximum effect. Luckily, there is expertise in the field that s available to help you through the process. What should I look out for? It all comes down to a basic point; a cloud-based initiative must be legitimized by its contributions to business outcomes. Carefully consider its many potential pitfalls, as well as its potential rewards. OUR CASE-BY-CASE SOLUTIONS The scope of information management challenges that organizations face has changed. There is more information, more potential uses and, as presented in this paper, more methods to address today's challenges and to be ready for tomorrow s opportunities. CGI offers an ABC solution. We apply Analytics to your situation and integrate them into your future content management plan. We then leverage the core characteristics of Big Data and the Cloud to maximize your data s potential, no matter your value-adding goals. CGI experts will work with your organization to identify where to start your successful cloudbased data initiative and determine the potential value of integrating cloud services with your enterprise systems. 6

7 In the initial planning phase and through ongoing progress monitoring, we ensure adoption and benefits realization through the following: Providing business consulting services to define the business case Implementing and tracking the benefit realization roadmap Establishing a governance model Developing and implementing the organizational structure Supporting the organizational change management (OCM) initiative Our basic toolkit includes a platform selection framework so that your migration and adoption process is tailored to your organization from start to finish. We also deliver systems integration services to ensure that correct, relevant, and complete data is available to support your initiatives. In addition, our analytical solution development services help to build insight-generating models and information delivery solutions that will support your business initiatives. Should you already own products for enterprise search, we can leverage them as needed to maximize your cloud-enabled solution. Lastly, we ensure the initiative is maintained and drives value over time through managed services. These services involve managing the infrastructure, enterprise information management systems and analytical solutions. Our clients have a choice of self-hosted solutions or CGI s cloud-based offering, all set up in collaboration with our experts. Getting your data cloud ready will increase the value potential of the cloud to your organization. It will maximize your return on investment for information assets by creating capabilities to manage enterprise and cloud-based data that is relevant to your business outcomes. Finding the right expert CGI experts will work with your organization to identify where to start your successful cloud-based data initiative and determine the potential value of integrating cloud services with your enterprise systems. To discuss in more detail the topics addressed in this white paper, please contact CGI s cloud computing expert at cgi.com 2014 CGI GROUP INC. Founded in 1976, CGI is a global IT and business process services provider delivering high-quality business consulting, systems integration and outsourcing services. With 68,000 professionals in 40 countries, CGI has an industry-leading track record of on-time, on-budget projects, aligning our teams with clients business strategies to achieve top-to-bottom line results. For more information about CGI, visit or contact us at 7

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