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HP bets on 'human-friendly' data management

Huge spike in unstructured, or "human-friendly", data means companies need to better manage such information and Hewlett-Packard aims to tap this potentially lucrative market, execs reveal.
Written by Jamie Yap, Contributor

VIENNA, AUSTRIA--Hewlett-Packard (HP) is targeting the lucrative growth area of enabling organizations to better dig, deal and deliver the right information at the right time to achieve their business goals with management tools for unstructured, or "human-friendly", data, according to company executives.

Mike Lynch, executive vice president of information management and CEO of Autonomy, said there has been a huge spike in the amount of unstructured data being generated in recent times. HP completed the US$10 billion acquisition of the British software maker in October.

As such, companies need to be able to handle such information to succeed, he noted during a press conference at the HP Discover event here on Tuesday.

The executive pointed out that the IT world is moving away from structured, machine-friendly information that is managed by a database approach of rows and columns. Today, companies are learning to embrace human-friendly unstructured data, which are constantly evolving with shifting meanings, such as e-mail, social media, video, audio and images, he added.

After all, 85 percent of information in modern enterprises is unstructured data as opposed to the 15 percent of structured data housed in databases, and the volume of unstructured data is growing three times faster than structured ones, Lynch said.

To address this trend, organizations will need to understand and organize the shades of gray and subtleties that exist in the diverse, real-time human world in which "keywords and tags fail", Lynch stated.

"Now is the time for the "I" in IT (information technology) to change."

The CEO added that the combined strengths of Autonomy and Vertica Systems--which focuses on structured data--give HP the tools to enable its enterprise customers to handle "100 percent of their data" at once. Vertica was bought by HP in March, and then-CEO Leo Apothekar stated that it was planning to release an HP-branded analytics appliance to help enterprise customers with real-time analytics of business intelligence like tracking components, supplies, Web browsing data, and more, according to a ZDNet Asia report.

Helping customers with information strategy
Customers' need for better information management tools and strategy was reiterated by Yves de Talhouët, senior vice president and managing director of HP Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), who spoke at the same briefing as Lynch.

The executive, citing an internal study conducted in October, noted that 48 percent of businesses worldwide do not have an information strategy to cope with the inevitable data explosion.

The study also revealed that 34 percent indicated more than half of the information within their organizations is unconnected, undiscovered and unused, de Talhouët pointed out. Furthermore, only 2 percent said they could access and deliver the right information at the right time to support enterprise outcomes, while in Asia-Pacific, only 1 percent noted that they had such capabilities on hand, he added.

With these findings in mind, Jan Zadak, executive vice president for global sales at HP, said there is a "huge opportunity" to drive information optimization for Asian enterprises.

During a separate media interview, the executive told ZDNet Asia that this optimization will benefit both companies in IT or otherwise. For instance, IT will play a part in discovering what the customers, partners, clients and investors think about a certain bank.

So, by implementing an information management strategy, this gives organizations a clear picture about where they stand in the eyes of their stakeholders, better understand the data and capitalize on it for the business decisions and objectives they have set out to achieve, Zadak surmised.

Jamie Yap of ZDNet Asia reported from HP Discover 2011 in Vienna, Austria.

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