To invest in the data platform technology that will serve the future of your business and allow it to grow, it’s crucial to have a deep understanding of the data driving your business strategy, as well as the data that will let you deliver on that strategy. This distinction is subtle, but important. A recent study by Hitachi Data Systems, Information Innovation Index, found that of the 200 UK IT decision makers whom Hitachi surveyed, 93 percent didn’t know where to strategically invest in technology. The reason, according to 75 percent of respondents was that they did not clearly understand their organization’s strategy and data.
In an article discussing this study, Richard Gadd, UK managing director for Hitachi Data Systems is quoted as explaining that the problem these statistics highlight is about “having the ability to garner valuable business insights to make informed technology investments that will drive future growth and enable … organizations to redefine business agility.”
Gadd concludes that “to stay relevant for the long term, organizations need to know their business inside out so they can quickly capitalize on new revenue opportunities before their competition does.”
For organizations that do understand their business strategy and therefore are able to see where they need to invest in technology, the results can be dramatic. Take the example of NTT DoCoMo, Japan’s largest mobile communications carrier.
NTT DoCoMo recognized that growth in the variety of mobile platforms and services required a data analysis and usage system to help the organization understand and deal with quickly changing customer needs. To address this requirement, according to Yuki Shimamura, General Manager, “Establishment of new traffic data warehouse that can understand and analyze subscribers’ trends in real time was an urgent task in order to provide greater value to customers. We decided to adopt SQL Server 2014 because it satisfies such requirements, and also enables a significant reduction in development and maintenance costs, which were an issue with the existing system.”
Clearly, the company’s understanding of its business and customer needs drove the decision of what technology to invest in. Masaki Inoue, Manager Billing System, Information Systems Division, explained that it was important to consider both present and future business needs when deciding which technology to invest in: “If the existing system had simply been updated as it was, it would certainly have been safer and easier. However, the system itself must be flexible enough to be changed in the face of future business opportunities, otherwise new value would never be gained. Those of us who were in charge of the system had to take on the challenge of constructing a new flexible system that could quickly cope with a variety of data analysis demands from top management and the work front in order to achieve the mid-term goals.”
The approach the team used to make the decision was a comparative evaluation of platforms. The deciding factors included the superior cost performance of SQL Server 2014 because the license for the main database engine included everything built-in, such as Integration Services, which is an ETL tool, Analysis Services and Reporting Services. In addition, SQL Server 2014’s columnstore index enables a high performance search through a large amount of data, which was not possible with the former Traffic DWH, so multi-layered processing that used to be needed is no longer required. As a result, quick analysis and usage of billing data was enabled for more than 66 million subscriber lines to further improve customer service.
This example demonstrates the importance of ensuring that an organization’s investments in data platform technology need to be driven by a deep understanding of the business strategy, customer trends, and future needs. In this case, the company found that the mission-critical capabilities included with Microsoft’s data platform met those needs and gave NTT DoCoMo a powerful platform for the present, upon which they can build for the future.