We sat down with CenturyLink Senior Lead Project Manager, Craig Belics, leading up to last month’s Cisco Live event to discuss his views on how big data strategies are unleashing tremendous opportunities for enterprise customers and the role CenturyLink is playing in helping customers transform.
Q: What are you particularly excited about showcasing at Cisco Live?
A: Our CenturyLink Solutions for SAP with Cisco UCS and NetApp definitely has me excited this year. It’s our newest offering for our customers using SAP applications that we announced in May, and it leverages the Cisco UCS infrastructure and the full ACI capabilities of the FlexPod stack. In addition, now that we are utilizing the automated capabilities of Vnomic to handle our SAP deployments, this ensures faster time to realization of our customer’s investment and ensures we maintain a consistent deployment methodology for our SAP practice, reducing human error, and enabling us to fully meet our published SLA’s. While typical SAP enterprise deployments take a couple of months to complete, with this new offering, we’re able to deploy within days. For enterprise customers that have compliance requirements or restrictions, whether it be PCI or HIPAA, this infrastructure also meets those requirements thanks to the multifaceted nature of the built-in security functions.
Q: What are some of the challenges facing enterprise customers operating in an age of analytics?
A: The most successful businesses are making their digital transformation a priority. However, some organizations are stuck in what I consider an archaic type of methodology that’s rooted in the past and is no longer serving them or their customers. If you embrace big data and latest analytics technologies and really understand what it can do for your business, it will enable tremendous opportunities to build long-term customer relationships that stick. It’s hugely rewarding when you really understand what drives your customers and you can develop strategies that respond directly to their needs and motivations.
Q: Can you share some examples of how digital leaders are successfully integrating analytics into their business?
A: One great use case is in inventory management for brick-and-mortar retailers. When a customer buys an item, that will trigger a change in inventory stock levels. Automatic notifications can alert retail staff in real time that they need to restock the shelves.
Taking the example even further, that same retailer’s analytics could extend out to their supply chain. Once the customer purchases an item, advanced analytics from big data can help retailers understand exactly how much inventory is needed at a location and recommend the best day for shipping out inventory, maybe even waiting a couple days to save on fuel if stock is still likely to be on the shelves for customers to buy in the meantime. Retailers who are employing analytics in this way are driving revenue growth because they aren’t missing out on sales due to lack of inventory.
This is just one example, but the benefits aren’t limited to the retail industry. Any business can benefit from analytics to manage supply per demand, optimize resources and deliver more personalized experiences.
Q: What do you see as the barriers to moving to this new way of doing things?
A: I think that the first step is for business and IT leaders to embrace the technology. A lot of companies out there today have very antiquated setups. They need to realize that big data—and IoT and SAP—can help them improve their business processes, attract more customers and really make them stickier and longer-term customers. When they are able to tap into the analytics and understand what motivates their customer base, then the curtain is drawn back. That’s when they really begin to know what solutions they need to bring to the table for personalized relationships that last.