CenturyLink's acquisition of Cognilytics on Thursday stands to speed up that network operator's use of big data and analytics both internally and externally, says the president of its global IT services. CenturyLink is also looking to exponentially scale the services it delivers to a wide range of businesses, in addition to monetization of its own internal data stores. (See CenturyLink Acquires Big Data Firm Cognilytics.)
Girish Varma, president, global IT services and new market development at CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL), says the company was in the process of internally developing analytics/big data capabilities, but found the building-from-scratch process too slow, particularly when it came to identifying and hiring the people needed to do that job.
By acquiring an analytics/big data company, CenturyLink can move more quickly and leverage the management team it is taking on, starting with Gary Gauba, founder, chairman and CEO of Cognilytics, who now becomes president of CenturyLink Cognilytics and will report to Varma.
"We chose Cognilytics because of a strong recognition from a lot of players [that] they are ahead of everybody else in doing innovative solutions," Varma says. "We aren't just looking for some revenue growth; you have to be able to grow this in triple digits and larger. And this is a company where the management team is strong enough to scale it to that level."
Gauba describes his management team as an experienced group with years of executive service at places such as Capital One, Visa, Andersen Consulting and American Express.
The move continues CenturyLink's aggressive expansion into cloud, IT and enterprise services through acquisition. Earlier this week, the company bought DataGardens, a Canadian company that makes disaster recovery software. (See CenturyLink Acquires DataGardens for Cloud Disaster Recovery.)
As with that purchase, the Cognilytics deal will enable CenturyLink to expand its cloud-based services portfolio, offering cloud-based storage of big data and cloud-based analytics services. But CenturyLink Cognilytics will also continue to sell premises-based advanced analytics across the variety of industry verticals it now sells to, including financial services, healthcare, retailing and more.
"Whether you put the solution in the cloud or at the customer premises is a function of the business problem you are trying to solve and the customer itself," Gauba says. For smaller companies, cloud-based solutions generally have greater appeal; but for larger operations or industry segments with compliance requirements for geographic location or other factors, premises-based solutions are required.
Big data and analytics have become buzzwords, but the services companies such as Cognilytics offer enable healthcare companies to reduce hospital readmission rates, retailers to improve cybersecurity and target offers, and banks to improve customer satisfaction, all using the data they currently have on their customers.
Either way, CenturyLink and Cognilytics are already in the process of developing the new service portfolio, leveraging CenturyLink Cloud's delivery platform and CenturyLink's roster of enterprise clients to expand the reach of Cognilytics' solutions beyond what its existing sales force could handle.
One immediate challenge will be training CenturyLink's sales force on this new addition to the service portfolio and putting in place the experts that will be the sales support for their efforts, Varma says. The goal is to move quickly in making the new offer available, he adds.
Speed is also of the essence for CenturyLink's own internal big data play, determining how best to use its existing data stores both to improve customer service and to monetize through new service offerings.
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading