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Liberty CIO: Enough With the Empty Boxes!

Ray Le Maistre
1/29/2014

AMSTERDAM -- Big Data In Focus -- Every now and then, frustration leads a senior network operator executive to take a swipe at the vendor community that has been testing that individual's patience.

Today that executive was Dean Walters, chief information officer for Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY)'s European operations, who, it seems, has had his fill of big data product pitches.

Speaking here in Amsterdam Wednesday morning, Walters noted that his exploratory big data meetings during the past few years "have often been people wheeling in very expensive empty [data storage] boxes and saying they can hold my hand for two years" while he gets up and running with a data warehouse. (See Telcos Warm to Big Data.)

That doesn't make him happy. He doesn't want expensive empty boxes, and he doesn't want "point solutions" that will perform one function. He wants business-focused solutions that sit above an enabling platform and will enable him to reach into his pool of data and perform a range of specific analytics and reporting functions on demand without having to re-invent the wheel and spend a fortune every time. "Big data doesn't provide insights… Solutions provide insights," he said.

So far, he hasn't seen what he wants. Walters believes the big data sector lacks the solutions that can make a difference and meet his needs, a problem exacerbated by the lack of skilled staff that can help build and implement a big data strategy.

"There's a lack of mature products and a lack of experienced people… There are not a lot of data scientists out there at the moment." The lack of out-of-the-box products and the current complexity of vendor propositions means it's difficult to justify any major investment, noted the CIO. "We haven't made any big investments so far. We are circling the elephant."

And while he's stalking his prey, Walters is continuing to evaluate his options and figure out "which data is relevant" to process and analyze, with the hope of gaining meaningful insights that can help the cable operator make better decisions about its network, services, and business strategies.

The CIO is obviously at the beginning of his big data journey and hoping to find what he wants, but good luck to the next vendor that enters Walters's office with a big data pitch. Whatever they do, they shouldn't take an empty box.

— Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

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Ray@LR
[email protected]
1/30/2014 | 9:42:41 AM
A word of warning...
A word of warning for any vendors looking to pitch budget-holders -- don't patronize them....

But to what extent is Walters seeking something he can't actually get? Does he want to see C before he's even mastered A and B?

So many different options in managing and exploiting 'big data'....
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