We hear so much about the relationship between Big Data and Cloud but what does this relationship mean? EMC made the idea famous with its advertising on Big Data and Cloud, and they do not offer a Big Data solution in the cloud – rather their large customers can build one with EMC offerings. One can host an analytics appliance from one of the large vendors on Amazon Web Services, but is that creating a necessary and meaningful relationship between Big Data and Cloud?
PAC believes that taking single instance software, SaaS – software inherently in the cloud – as the starting point is the key. With a connected ecosystem of apps in the cloud linking global and consolidated data stores interesting and meaningful relationships begin to emerge.
By offering a single instance of software to customers, a SaaS software provider can capture data basically in one place. This data can be generated by millions or even billions of users. While for security and privacy reasons this data cannot be accessed easily without permission across all customers, imagine the powerful analytics that become possible instantly on a global scale even for one customer. Not only can data be analyzed on the same platform and across standardized structured and unstructured data, it can be linked to other applications in real-time. Users can also control their own access permissions to other applications for their data stored in the cloud, bypassing potentially complex and often costly business process bottlenecks. Just this fact, that users can control permissions to accessing their data creates a myriad of potential business opportunities.
We see examples of this particularly emerging in the travel and expense management industry.
For example, Concur, a fast-growing T&E SaaS company, runs a single instance of its software, which contains the history and preferences of millions of business travelers on a global scale for hotels, car rentals, taxi services and airlines. Users’ expense and travel management information can be analyzed to make personal and location based recommendations. Such analytics can also allow for the development of a pro-active mobile personal assistant. The opportunity for location based services reaching the €30 billion+ online travel business in Europe could be significant. Capturing a small share of this market as an offshoot to an online software business turns the value of analyzing large amounts of global data with a single instance of online software into a legitimate and sizable new market as long as privacy and opt-in measures are taken into account.
Concur believes in this SaaS vision to such an extent that it announced in November its intention to invest $150 million in capital in a strategic new research and development initiative, “Concur Perfect Trip” Fund. The fund is meant to nurture emerging companies in what it calls the T&E Cloud (travel & expense management cloud), such as Evature, developer of an Expert Virtual Agent (EVA) which provides natural-language search capabilities for online travel, buuteeq, a cloud digital marketing system for hotels, Room 77, a hotel search site, Yapta, provider of Intelligent Price Tracking™, Cleartrip, an Indian online travel portal and TaxiMagic, a mobile consumer solution for the ground transportation industry.
Lisa Hutt, Vice President EMEA Marketing at Concur says, “Concur’s vision of The Perfect Trip is built on creating a travel ecosystem that dynamically responds to the needs of business travelers, the companies that they work for and the suppliers that serve them. With the T&E cloud, vendors can collaborate to create seamless experiences for business travelers and we can make the initiative a reality.”
While buzz words can confuse us, we are almost always sure there is something important behind them and this is certainly true for Big Data and Cloud. I would add that maybe we want to also talk about Big Data and SaaS. In the end it becomes semantics. What is important is that Cloud software or SaaS solutions take data and users out of silos bringing them together on one shared and standardized platform – allowing for new approaches to analytics and Big Data for business outcomes.
Post by Megan Dahlgren