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Tomorrow's Data Scientist

6 May 2016 by Howard M Cohen

Most Managed Service Providers (MSPs) emphasize they will make sure the network keeps working so their customers can focus on business. Especially since the arrival of cloud computing, the entire value proposition has centered on providing the operation of the customer’s information management network.

As we move forward, this emphasis will expand to include the entire information management function of a given business.  Data is now recognized by most businesses as being their most valuable asset, and managing that data effectively can yield tremendous business advantage and new profitability.

The challenge for many businesses, especially growing businesses, is that they are not in the information management business, and don’t necessarily have the expertise to even recruit and select the right personnel, much less effectively manage the data.

This is causing an explosion of new offerings in the MSP marketplace.

Data science

Big data was not created by a sudden burst of new information suddenly appearing in databases all over the world.  It was created by significant advances in the ways we collect data and the technologies available to us.

These advances can be seen as a substantial part of the Internet of Things phenomenon, which anticipates the connection of tens or hundreds of billions of devices to the global internet. An enormous proportion of these devices, these “things” on the internet, will be sensors and other measuring devices that are constantly capturing more and more data points. Billions of collectors times billions of data points result in an inconceivable volume of data.

To be valuable, all of these data points must be collected, collated, organized, summarized, analyzed and ultimately turned into useful information that informs more effective decision making. That will result in far more productive action and, ultimately, greater profitability.  That’s the whole point.

In the past 20 years, managed service providers have gone far beyond the circuits and the devices to manage processes, policies and procedures for their customers.  In the next stage, the MSP of tomorrow will be called upon to manage the results, too. While many MSPs have already entered the consultative province of business process re-engineering (BPR), the next stage will see them managing the data.

This includes all of the processing, analytics and reporting most companies only dream of, and it will require new skill sets that most MSPs have yet to touch.

All about the data

Since they first started appearing in the late 1990s, MSPs have been primarily focused on managing and supporting infrastructure & operations (I&O). Today, with large companies like Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, Google and others vying to provide infrastructure as a service (IaaS) the MSP business model must change.

At the end of the day, all the infrastructure and all the operations are about one thing: the data. Data only generates value in motion, so the fundamental mission of all IT is to protect and transport valuable business data on its way to making money. More and more customers are learning how to make better use of data. This creates a tremendous opportunity for MSPs to manage new services focused on collecting, organizing, orchestrating, analyzing and reporting on data for their customers.