Colin Parris, GM IBM Power Systems
By Colin Parris
Westside Produce, a harvester and distributor of fresh melons in California’s Central Valley, probably isn’t the kind of company that comes to mind when you think about cutting-edge computing technologies. Yet this outfit, with just a few hundred employees, uses sophisticated technology to predict how many melons will be ready for harvest on any given day and to trace the movement of its produce—down to the case level—all the way from the field to grocery shelves.
Westside Produce is emblematic of a major shift that’s coming—a new era of computing that will deliver the power of big data analytics to organizations of all sizes and to all sorts of people within them.
You remember Watson, the IBM computer that beat two former grand-champions at the TV quiz show Jeopardy. That kind of data-crunching power is coming to the masses.
The combination of massive amounts of information and the tools to make sense of it has huge implications for businesses and society. Today, computers are everywhere—thanks, in large part, to the revolution in communications that has brought us all manner of smart phones and digital tablets. Now, data analytics is on its way to becoming pervasive, as well.
Big Data isn’t the sole province of big companies. Organizations of all sizes are challenged to make sense of huge amounts of data from mobile devices, video cameras, sensors and social networks. A medium-sized fashion retailer in South Africa needs access to big data insights just as much as a giant rail freight hauler based in the United States.