moving boxes

There are two things anyone who has shelled out big bucks to become a data scientist understands: 1) it takes time to learn the necessary skills and 2) there may not be an immediate payoff.

While a few new data science grads may land multiple job offers with salaries of $200,000 or more, they will be the exceptions.

Even though employer demand is high, expectations are higher. Data wizards, even freshly minted ones, are supposed be able to pinpoint the fulcrum on which the future of business will turn. They'll also need to have the savvy to persuade the C-Suite that their hunches are right.

Pay Commensurate With the Work

It is hard to gain that kind of trust from company brass and those who can win it are few and far between. Most companies — with exceptions such as Google, LinkedIn, Spotify, Twitter, Facebook and the like) are lucky to employ just a few data scientists, let alone the army that they need.

John Thompson, general manager of Round Rock, Texas-based Dell's Statistica, told CMSWire the average company employs less than a handful of data scientists. They typically have insurmountable workloads, meaning that many requests for game-changing insights come after the pivotal moment has passed or has simply gone unmet.

Needless to say, with new problems come new opportunities. While we're going to go through what Dell has to offer, there may also be an interesting prospect in sight for EMC/VMWare spinoff Pivotal.

Citizen Data Scientists

Dell landed Statistica, which has a top-rated advanced analytics offering, through its acquisition of StatSoft a few years ago. 

It's one of several vendors that are creating tools for a new breed of workers called "citizen data scientists" — data savvy workers with business analyst titles who can speak fluently to both geek and the C-suite. 

While Gartner praised Dell earlier this year for building an even more intuitive user interface and an imbedded interactive visualization engine (via its Kitenga integration), Thompson and his team have now unveiled a new set of capabilities.  Statistica version 13.1 not only gives data workers tools for data prep and analytical workflows, but also the ability to use languages (like Python) to build analytical and predictive models.

The new release also offers reusable templates. Data scientists build, verify, lock and publish them, leaving business users free to load data and glean insight from whatever data sources they want.

Analytics at the Edge

To be competitive in this data-driven age, businesses of all sizes have figure out how to manage data flowing from the Internet of Things (IoT). 

While Hortonworks offers one (non-competing) way to work with fast, streaming data, Dell Statistica can now leverage data at the edge via Dell Boomi, an integration Platform-as-a-Service (iPaaS). 

The way it works, according to Thompson, is that data workers build analytical models, which are then exported and integrated into Boomi and delivered to any IP. The cycle, according to Thompson, is simple: Model, Code, Stream, Return Results.

It's a Poly-Analytical World

In vogue as open source is, advanced analytics vendors, almost by their very nature, are the producers of a secret sauce. Yet failing to integrate with big data platforms, many of which are open source, would be a huge mistake. It’s one that Dell is not going to make. Included in the new release is an ability perform in-database analytics on Apache Hive (on Spark), as well proprietary databases like MySQL, Oracle, and Teradata.

Statistica 13.1 also now offers In-database analytics, where data doesn't need to be moved. This can be a game-changer in a data driven world, the first company to gain insight has a competitive advantage. The new release enables organizations to leverage the compute power of Hadoop clusters, database appliances and other high-performance platforms, while reducing network traffic by eliminating the time-consuming process of moving massive amounts of data.

What is Dell Gonna Do With It?

When Michael Dell addressed his customers at Dell World in 2014, he spotlighted Dell's abilities to do analytics on big data during his keynote.

"We're experts in understanding your outcomes and building an analytics engine to meet your needs," he told the crowd during his Dell World Keynote. "We're innovating with partners that matter to you most: Oracle, SAP, Microsoft, VMware, Hadoop and Cloudera. We're providing the ramps to get off the aging, obsolete UNIX platform and get onto x86 scale out, modern Linux seamlessly."

That was then. The question now is whether and where Statistica fits into the post-EMC merged Dell. 

It does not seem to be core to the business. While EMC has a big data offering of some sort (we’d pin it mostly to Services or to Pivotal), Dell is mostly a computer hardware company and EMC is a storage company. Ancillary products and services at both companies have existed mostly to sell more of their base offerings.

CMSWire asked Thompson where Statistica fit into the mega corporation that will soon employ him. 

He referred us to his biggest boss, Dell CEO Michael Dell, who has not responded to our query or tweeted about the new Statistica release. We understand that the billionaire has many things to worry about, like selling Quest Software and Sonic Wall

Perhaps Statistica would be well-suited at Pivotal. It might provide some quick wins for its customers.

While Pivotal is an "independent company," EMC and VMware own most of it, so it's pretty much under EMC's control. 

The mix could provide a bigger big data contender with Pivotal offering a platform for custom analytical insights and Statistica providing packaged software.

Title image "boxing day" (CC BY 2.0) by erix!