If you’ve been following my coverage the last several months, you know I’ve been spending a lot of time examining the tech industry’s response to the Covid-19 global pandemic which hit the country with force in March. After some time, I realized I was falling into using the same sort of buzzwords everyone in the industry is using to talk about this moment—work from home, agility, flexibility, quantum, supercomputers. The fact of the matter is, while Covid-19 has put a new spotlight on these issues, we’ve been pushing these ideas for a long time. One company who is showing some real innovation during the pandemic is Cloudera. I recently had a call with Cindy Maike, the company’s VP of Industry Solutions, to learn more about how Cloudera is bridging the chasm opened up by Covid-19. I wanted to share some of my takeaways.
Before we get into the content of the call, I wanted to provide a little background on Cloudera as a household name. But if you are an enterprise with big data, you know the company well. Headquartered in Palo Alto, CA, Cloudera was founded in 2008 as a enterprise-geared, hybrid, open-source Apache Hadoop distribution. Since then, it has carved out a space as a software company, providing a platform for applications such as data engineering, data warehousing, machine learning, and cloud as well as on-prem analytics. Last fall, the company announced the Cloudera Data Platform, the first enterprise data cloud to hit the market. Touted for its ease of deployment, management and use, the platform provides public, private, bare metal, hybrid and multi-cloud environments with self-service analytics, from the edge to the cloud. In other words, it works on every cloud. CDP is completely open—open source, open compute, open storage and open for integration. CDP is also a multi-function platform—its self-service experiences include data engineering, data warehouse, operational database, flow and streaming and machine learning. On top of all that, it’s highly secure and private, thanks to its SDX technology (Shared Data Experience) which purportedly enables the platform to spin up a secure data lake in mere hours.
I interviewed Cloudera’s CEO here where we talked a lot about where the company is headed.
Uncertainty demands visibility
Covid-19 has introduced unprecedented levels of volatility and uncertainty into every corner of the market—customer behavior, supply chain continuity, competitor behavior and government intervention are all in flux. Most companies have never had to deal with this sort of dynamic market, full of the unknown, before. Navigating this uncertainty, as an enterprise, is not for the faint of heart. It requires total visibility when it comes to an organization’s data, so that potential blind spots can be identified and eliminated, as well as the predictive analytics capabilities necessary to optimize an organization’s decision-making. Only the agile and able will survive.
In our discussion, Maike referred to today’s need for a “360-degree view of data,” which requires organizations to instrument their entire business so that they can see potential issues wherever they may arise, in real time—across customers, supply chains and internal functions. Cloudera says that CDP is just the offering for the job, capable of managing all of an organization’s data, where it may reside, throughout the edge-to-AI data lifecycle. And I agree. It’s quite a value proposition.
Verticals benefit from a “360-degree” view of data
We also drilled down a little deeper on some specific verticals where Maike believes Cloudera’s 360-degree view of data is particularly crucial.
The first of the three verticals Maike cited was Retail and CPGs (consumer packaged goods—products that are quickly consumed and replaced, such as certain foods, toiletries, over-the-counter medications, etc.). We’re talking about the big, mass merchandisers, like Wal-Mart, Costco, Sam’s Club, Target, CVS, etc. These businesses, now more than ever, need to be able to take in real-time information about supply and demand, since the historical trends have basically been upended by the pandemic. What’s flying off the shelf on Monday might not be what’s flying off the shelf on Wednesday. In order to keep things running smoothly in these times of extreme variability, these merchandisers have to be able to make educated, real-time decisions about what items they need to restock and when. On the other side of things, of course, are businesses, such as Proctor and Gamble, who produce the CPGs sold at these merchandisers. These companies can no longer rely just on their seasonal demand planning—they also need to be able to monitor demand in real-time so their production can keep up with current variability and avoid stock outs.
Maike also cited healthcare as a vertical that can benefit from Cloudera and CDP, an area which is obviously under a lot of pressure right now as it struggles to support the climbing Covid-19 numbers. Specifically, Maike referenced New Haven Health Services, one of Cloudera’s customers, as an example. Before the world turned upside down, Yale New Haven Health was using CDP in its cancer research platform. Once the pandemic took hold in the US, the organization pivoted quickly to Covid-19 research. Since the core components of the data analysis process were already in place, with CDP, the organization was able to make this change much quicker than others were able to. Within a week, their entire research department was flipped.
The last vertical Maike mentioned was that of auto insurance. During the economic downturn of the last several months, auto insurance companies have helped lighten the load on their customers by refunding 15% of their premiums. Maike made the point that without a 360-degree view of its customers and data across all product areas, an insurance company would not be able to discern whether it could take this measure without hurting its profitability in the long run.
In short, these three sectors are all having to pivot to meet the challenges presented by Covid-19. While it’s not clear at all how all of this will shake out in the long run, CDP can help businesses figure out how productive and functional they are at the current moment, and help them chart a path forward in these uncertain times.
Security and privacy saves money
One last thing I wanted to hit on centers around how Cloudera’s solutions can help its customers bolster their security and privacy position. According to Maike, since last June, fines for privacy violations were higher than the actual dollars lost through cybercrime. CDP secures, governs, and traces the lineage of data, throughout its life cycle, wherever it migrates. What this means is that CDP can help companies save serious money by protecting them from the huge fines doled out for privacy violations. For this reason, Cloudera has seen success in a lot of highly regulated industries. Regulators want businesses to be able to account for every bit of data—where it is, and how it’s secured. It’s worth noting that the Covid-19 pandemic has opened up a lot of new attack surfaces for cybercrime, as companies scramble to support their newly remote workforce. The more visibility organizations have into their data, the less likely one of these cyberattacks will be successful.
Things are crazy all over right now. Thanks to Covid-19, even markets that typically remain static are facing unprecedented amounts of uncertainty and disruption. From healthcare research to mass merchandisers like Costco, data capabilities are a crucial determiner of a organization’s agility and ability to respond quickly to rapidly-changing circumstances. By providing businesses with an impressive 360-degree view of their data, I believe Cloudera’s Data Cloud Platform has the potential to mitigate risks, drive revenue, lower costs and ensure regulatory compliance. It’s a powerful value proposition for the dynamic times we’re living in.
Note: Moor Insights & Strategy writers and editors may have contributed to this article.