2016: The Year of Cloud-based Data Analytics
For 2016, CIOs will be thinking about the future; and their thoughts will be all about moving core business services to the cloud, cloud-to-cloud integration, cloud security, and the possibilities opened upby “big data” analytics.
"Finding the talent, building the team to do this, not to mention all the hardware and software required, is cost-prohibitive for a lot of medium-sized businesses, so it's more efficient to use hosted services"
If 2015 was about shifting to the cloud, 2016 is about moving data cloud-to-cloud to create business value. Most forward-thinking CIOs are caught between managing the explosion in the size and mix of business data, while at the same time trying to reduce spend on storing, processing, archiving, and analyzing that data. Increasingly, the product or service that CIOs support in their business is seen as the baseline, whereas the data about the use and purchase of that product or service is really where the gold lies.
At LOGICnow, which creates a powerful and comprehensive platform for Managed Services Providers and IT Service Providers, we are living all of these trends at hyper-speed. Over the past few years, we have moved all our core business systems to SaaS platforms, which is appropriate given we are a SaaS vendor ourselves. The scalability of platforms such as Salesforce, Office365, and others has probably saved us 10 or more times the money compared to building our own infrastructure, and then managing and licensing client software. If we suddenly need more space, processing power, or licenses, it’s instantly available.
In a high-growth environment where products and capabilities are rapidly developed, or new services are purchased, it becomes far more efficient to integrate systems this way. Whether you are connecting APIs together, or simply getting a database dump from an old system uploaded, the game has changed when switching applications, as in our case, where all core business services are delivered via a web browser.
LOGICnow has built a cloud infrastructure to handle all the business intelligence required for subscription-based SaaS sales. Codenamed ‘Project Juliet’, the system is aREST-based API that provides a single unified interface across its product range. This enables LOGICnow’s products to consistently integrate with our back-office business systems and applications. Juliet enables LOGICnow to have a unified view, within its CRM platform, across the disparate product lines of each company it is engaged with either as a prospect, a customer, or a reseller. The API combined with CRM, the subscription billing and management platform, payment gateway providers, and the newly developed shopping cart UI vastly increases the visibility of business activities.
In addition, the business intelligence underlying Juliet manages the generation and assignment of a global non-product specific LOGICnow Customer ID (CID) for each customer and reseller. This CID is used by the company’s financial accounting system as the primary ID associated with all financial transaction between that customer and LOGICnow.
The LOGIC now business is a cloud-to-cloud service, with Juliet managing the data in between systems and giving us unprecedented visibility of our users’ activities. Soon the lead generation SaaS marketing platform will help us in seeing trends in terms of product adoption, by country, region and by specific types of customers.
All this cloud-to-cloud and analytical power is a natural companion to the new LOGICcards feature found in ourcore Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) product. By making it easy to push data around, we can predict the impact of certain events and make better business decisions. We have a data science team helping us develop analytics tools and it’s impressive to see all this data rolling into one massive Excel pivot table, in real-time.
When you think about the customer journey, the more data points you have, the more opportunity you have to assist, leverage, or encourage product adoption. The importance of integrating marketing campaigns, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and online data into customer information is the holy grail – having attribution data on a customer, tells us how effective our messaging is, and ultimately whether or not the marketing spend justifies the trial.
There is another important element to this as well. Traditional client-server systems were notoriously difficult to secure; even simple security steps could stop business systems from working properly. In the era of cloud-to-cloud, it’s relatively straight-forward to stick two-factor authentication in front of business systems, it’s just another cloud-to-cloud service.
I spoke with Ian Trump, our security Lead at LOGICnow, who put it this way: “There has been a lot of debate in and out of the media on the merits of cloud security. When you look at all the costs – especially of physical security for a data center –the spend is rarely justified. Using services from Amazon, Google, or Microsoft is a huge win for the bottom line. In this day and age of cybercrime, if you’re in the SaaS model you need to staff up a Network Operations Center/ Security Operations Center as well as all that hardware.”
Finding the talent, building the team to do this, not to mention all the hardware and software required, is cost-prohibitive for a lot of medium-sized businesses,so it’s more efficient to use hosted services. “You still need to protect your end points with layered security,” says Trump,“but you’reputting the big iron in a hosted environment.”
LOGICnow could have never built our business, rapidly adopted new technologies and services, integrated technologies, and maintained a steady grip on the financials if it wasn’t for the scalability and agility cloud services provides. A modern CIO has to have his head in the clouds, in a good way.