Recent Blog Posts

Accelerating Business Transformation in Australia

I was in Australia recently, visiting the beautiful cities of Sydney and Melbourne. I had the opportunity to meet with some of the largest and best-known companies in the region, who just happen to be our customers as well. One of the best things about this is that I’ve been able to have a lot of conversations with IT specialists and business leaders from a range of organizations, hear about their current priorities and concerns, and get a feel for what’s changed since my last visit. A common theme on this trip was the acceleration of business transformation across all industries.


Times are Changing


What do you think was the most common opening line when I went into these meetings? It generally went along the lines of: “Hello, my name is X. I’ve only been in the job for Y weeks.” This was the case with almost every CIO and CTO I met. At the same time, there was more often than not a new person at the table – the Chief Innovation Officer (or Chief Disruptor in one case). This new role was created to build a bridge between the traditional CIO function and the technology needs of the business. Inevitably perhaps, this means rocking the boat a bit; shaking up the old ways of doing things and driving changes that will support business growth in the digital, hyperconnected world. This move towards what I’d call “Digital Convergence” is underpinned by deploying a digital platform based on Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud, or SMAC (you might know it as IDC’s Third Platform, or Gartner’s Nexus of Forces).


I think this points to a recognition of the generational shift that is occurring in the roles and skills required to drive transformation – and, critically, drive it with velocity. We live in a world where people expect rapid (minutes vs months) service delivery that creates instant impact and gratification. And the demand keeps increasing. As I heard one millennial say recently, “the trouble with instant gratification is that it’s not quick enough.” Think about that for a second (but no longer!).


At the same time as the SMAC revolution and the emergence of the millennial-dominated workplace, there’s another game changer making its presence felt: the Internet of Things (IoT). The organizations I spoke to recognize the need to respond to the challenges and huge opportunities presented by IoT. It was clear that the maturation of standards and robust security were key issues. We also noted that when thinking about the edge device and what to do with it you need to start with your information and data, decide what you need the device to do and program the device to do exactly that – more of an inside out vs outside in approach.


One Chief Digital Officer that I met with saw the sea change that all this is going to mean for the way we do business: “I tell my employees that this is the least amount of change they’ll ever see.” That’s quite a daunting thought. But it’s also incredibly exciting.


People.pngTransform the Business, Not Just the Workplace


Every organization I spent time with recognized that they need to transform. Where I saw some variability was in how far they’d gone beyond talking to doing. It’s easy to talk about the need to change, harder to make it real. Some trains had left the station so to speak, others had not. It is clear each industry – indeed, each individual company – will be able to gain significant leverage through deploying a SMAC-based digital platform but many of the questions revolved around where to start, how to approach.


The key is to think about it from a business perspective and agree on the desired business outcomes you would expect in deploying a digital platform. For example, reducing cost and increasing business agility; monetizing your data (from insights); winning and retaining customers through a more immersive experience; increasing innovation and productivity through a transformed workplace … and so on. Clearly technology plays a role in helping to address these, as does the often overlooked cultural aspects of change and while it might sound obvious to look at things from an “outcomes” first perspective it doesn’t happen as much as you might think — perhaps one reason we’re seeing the shift in roles and skills I mentioned earlier. It’s easy to look at the changes you need to make and take a technology first approach but you may find yourself fighting an uphill battle to bring in new technologies that end up having little or no positive impact. I saw a number of Workplace Transformation projects that had been focused on the technology rather than the outcome and had not delivered the expected ROI. Instead users have just been bombarded with even more technology and without the correct level of attention paid to the cultural aspect they just suffer “tool fatigue”.


Meanwhile, everyone is still concerned with meeting security, privacy and compliance demands. This is a huge issue, with vast amounts of IT budget — up to 50% in some companies I met with — being spent on regulatory box-ticking that brings little value to the bottom line. The executives I spoke to are all looking to simplify their operations here to reduce time and cost while maintaining compliance and enabling them to re-focus investment on optimizing their security postures.


Challenge the Status Quo


I had the chance to visit some customers housed inside beautiful new office buildings that had been given the Workplace Transformation treatment but found a number of them being held back because of the somewhat dated capabilities and tools being deployed via their outsourcing partners who appear to be struggling to enter this new world. What was encouraging though is that number of this new breed of “Chief Innovation Officers” hadn’t been afraid to break the mold behind the scenes. As resident boat-rocker, it’s their job to challenge the status quo and seek alternatives to legacy systems when they no longer make sense for the business’s new IT needs.


Yes, it might annoy a few people in the short term, and it’ll probably require a few late nights and long meetings to secure board-level support and employee buy-in, but I believe it’s worth it in order to transform the business now, and to enable it to keep re-inventing itself moving forward.


What has been your Workplace Transformation experience? Are you a Chief Innovation Officer with some pearls of wisdom to share?

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The Digital Patient is Here to Stay

In healthcare, the patient is at the heart of everything we do. This sentiment is echoed in technologies ranging from wearables and mHealth to telehealth and remote patient monitoring, with the aim of generating data we didn’t have before, improving collaboration and integration, and fostering communication and education. NancyRagontheadshot.JPG


The driving force behind all this innovative goodness? To improve patient care and engagement. Today’s patients are becoming more engaged in their own healthcare, and as a result are starting to drive the requirement for better information consolidation and integration. Technology empowers patients to be more informed and more proactive, delivering greater access to their own health data. This year, we decided to highlight this growing trend by building our entire HIMSS booth around it, focusing on Powering Patient Care Through Technology!


With technology enabling better and more open lines of communication to healthcare providers 24/7, patients are no longer recipients but vital participants in the continuum of care. And as the delivery of value-based care continues to expand across healthcare, meeting the modern patient’s needs is imperative, helping them to be Empowered, Mobile, Secure and Connected. Our HIMSS booth contains four patient stations that will bring each of these concepts to life:


  1. Empowered Patient. See how patients are putting themselves at the center of their care
  2. Mobile Patient. Find out how patients are embracing mobility for better health
  3. Secure Patient. Learn how providers are transforming their infrastructures for total optimization, accessibility and security
  4. Connected Patient. Learn about ways patients are staying connected to caregivers and other providers


Check out these patient-focused resources to keep up with the latest technology advances powering the patient experience:



Are you headed to HIMSS15? Visit us to see the patient experience firsthand. Check out what we’ve got planned for HIMSS15 and Booth #1231 where we’ll be Powering Patient Care Through Technology!


Looking for technology to help support your patient care and engagement efforts?

For more information on a variety of technology solutions from patient data management to EHR support to back-end infrastructure, visit CDW Healthcare’s CommunIT.


Nancy Ragont is Senior Manager of Segment Marketing at CDW Healthcare

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Brands Win Customers by Noting Their Online Behaviors

In recent weeks we’ve entered a number of customer conversations about the future of the store.


However, we’ve yet to discuss the future of the brand and how a retail brand might redefine itself to win the shopper of the future.


Here’s the only thing you need to understand:


These days, the front door to the brand is found online.


Cross-Channel Influence on the Digital Shopper


Research over the past years into developed world shopper behavior shows that roughly two-thirds of Internet-connected shoppers begin their decision journeys online.



And this has enormous consequences for brick and mortar brands.


A recent survey of digital shopper behavior indicates that online ratings and reviews are the most important influence upon overall purchasing decisions; this preference was cited by 84 percent of respondents1, over friends and family (60 percent), store employees (22 percent), and all forms of advertising-marketing ranging from in-store display to social media.


In addition, such shoppers are more inclined to self-service and self-acquisition of product-price knowledge, and have ever-increasing expectations that life in the store should be similar to life on the Internet — faster, more convenient, with greater access to knowledge and limitless access to inventory.


The younger the shopper, the higher the digital influence in all forms just mentioned.


Which means a great deal when we pause for a moment and recognize that the nation’s largest demographic group, the always-connected millennials, has a purchasing power estimated to reach $2.5 trillion by 2020.2


The implications of these changes reach beyond the boundaries of the brick and mortar store. So how does the brand deliver its unique promise to customers in the new cross-channel reality? How, what, and where is decision-influencing content delivered across the eight screens of the new digital life?


The Brand-Customer Relationship Redefined


The big industry effort I strongly applaud is the enormous investment being made in omni-channel restructuring to get rid of the old e-commerce silos. This will lead to the merging of organizations, inventories, and critical repositories of customer and vendor data.


The hypothesis is that the future of retail lies in redefinition of the brand-shopper relationship. And that the path to that future — into which we’re investing both finances and our best minds — is all about deep, granular understanding of shopper behavior. 


For more detail on our vision and plans, check back in this space. This is the fourth installment of a series on Retail & Tech. Click here to read Moving from Maintenance to Growth in Retail Technology, The Behavioral Shift Driving Change in the World of Retail, and Retailers Must Learn to Love the Digital Native.


Jon Stine
Global Director, Retail Sales

Intel Corporation


1 Merkle-Intel Digital Shopper Behavior Survey, 2014.

2 US Census Bureau, 2014.

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Météo-France Improves Forecast Accuracy Using Intel Xeon Processors

From avalanche predictions to storm surge warnings, the chances of rain on a national holiday or the arrival of perfect picnic conditions, we would all like to know what the weather is going to do tomorrow.


Luckily we’ve come a long way since basing our predictions on whether the cows are lying down or the color of the sky at night. Now weather prediction, alongside climate analysis, is done by intensely complex computer models running on some of the world’s most powerful supercomputers.


Woman-Phone.pngSupercomputers for Predicting Snowflakes


At Météo-France, 460 teraflops of big data computing are now available for radically improved weather and climate modeling. France’s national meteorological service relies on two bullx supercomputers powered by the Intel Xeon processor E5 family to help its dozens of physicists, atmospheric chemists, hydrologists and oceanographers make sense of data gathered from millions of points around the world.


The French government has requirements that the resolution of the weather forecasting model be increased from 2.5 kilometers to 1.3 kilometers in order to pinpoint predicted weather patterns at a more granular level and deliver more accurate, highly localized, forecasts. The adoption of the Bull supercomputers has enabled Météo-France to meet these requirements. Internal tests at Météo-France show that the new supercomputers have already increased useful performance by a factor of 12 when compared to the previously installed configuration. Electricity consumption has also been reduced by 20 percent overall.


The new supercomputers cement the organization’s position at the heart of international weather and climate research.


For more details on how Météo-France is using high performance computing based on Intel Xeon processors, read the case study here.


To continue this conversation on Twitter, please follow us at @IntelITCenter or use #ITCenter.


Jane Williams
Online Sales Development Manager
Intel Corporation

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Argumenty za zbudowaniem dużego, wewnętrznego działu IT

W magazynie ITwiz opisaliśmy ciekawy case z firmy Gaspolu, w którym prezentowany jest 7-letni “cykl” współpracy dostawcy z klientem – od jej rozpoczęcia po przejście na nierealne stawki. Na to nałożył się dynamiczny rozwój firmowego oprogramowania, w tym systemów ERP i aplikacji biznesowych. W efekcie Gaspol na nowo zdefiniował strategię w zakresie IT. Zamiast rozbudowywać portfolio firm zewnętrznych odpowiedzialnych za rozwój oprogramowania, postawił na rozwój własnych zasobów IT. Dziś jest to ok. 30 osób.


Impulsem do zmian w Gaspolu były rosnące koszty związane z utrzymaniem systemu ERP, w tym usług zewnętrznych konsultantów. „Na to nałożył się fakt, że w Gaspolu jesteśmy bardzo kreatywni, jeśli chodzi o rozwój naszej działalności. Jako pierwsi w Polsce staliśmy się firmą multienergetyczną i – oprócz gazu płynnego – do oferty wprowadziliśmy energię elektryczną, gaz ziemny sieciowy i skroplony LNG, energię odnawialną i systemy hybrydowe. Dlatego też naszą nową marką jest GASPOL ENERGY” – wspomina Michał Kozieł, dyrektor Departamentu IT w Gaspolu.

Outsourcing ograniczyć do infrastruktury IT


W ślad za rozbudową oferty w Gaspolu rozpoczęły się prace nad integracją systemów sprzedażowych, marketingowych oraz tworzeniem aplikacji, które ułatwiłyby klientom zarządzanie różnymi mediami, które od niedawna mogą kupować w tej samej firmie. „O ile mogę wyobrazić sobie wynajem od firmy zewnętrznej serwerów czy infrastruktury IT, o tyle rozwój naszego systemu wolałem pozostawić w naszych rękach. Zwłaszcza że nie sprzedajemy standardowych produktów. Moim zamierzeniem było dostosowanie procesów do tego, jak są opisane w systemie ERP, jednak z zachowaniem możliwości elastycznego wprowadzania zmian” – opowiada Michał Kozieł.


Gaspol potrzebował systemu służącego do obsługi sprzedaży detalicznej gazu i energii elektrycznej. Poza tym potrzebna była funkcjonalność wystawiania kompleksowej faktury za energię elektryczną i gaz ziemny. Wdrożono też system do obsługi procesu zmiany dostawcy energii przez klientów. Trwają prace nad systemem do tzw. grafikowania – czyli prognozowania zużycia energii i planowania zakupów innych jej nośników, np. gazu. Aktualnie Gaspol współpracuje z niewielką firmą, która stworzyła dedykowane rozwiązanie pokrywające podstawowe potrzeby w zakresie rozliczania energii elektrycznej i gazu ziemnego. Firma ta świadczy również serwis systemu. „Przeskanowanie przez nas rynku pod względem możliwości firm zewnętrznych potwierdziło, że najmocniejszy know-how o tym, jak funkcjonuje nasz biznes mamy jednak wewnątrz organizacji. To tutaj – w tworzącym się dopiero dziale energetycznym – powstają pomysły na temat przyszłych funkcjonalności docelowego rozwiązania” – wyjaśnia Michał Kozieł.

Na to wszystko nakłada się swego rodzaju „cykl” współpracy z firmą wdrażającą i utrzymującą systemy IT dla Gaspolu. „Zwykle trwa on ok. 7 lat – od rozpoczęcia współpracy do momentu podnoszenia stawek na poziom, którego już nie jesteśmy w stanie zaakceptować. To zmusza nas do poszukiwania nowego dostawcy i rozpoczynania całego procesu na nowo” – dodaje. „Bywało również tak, że na realizację pewnego zlecenia zewnętrzny dostawca potrzebował 3 razy więcej czasu niż pracownik u mnie w dziale. Różnie też bywało z testowaniem. Praktyka pokazała, że testerów też najlepiej mieć u siebie” – dodaje.

Powody budowy dużego, własnego działu IT


Kiedy kończyłem analizę kosztową naszej nowej strategii IT, zdarzyło się, że jeden z partnerów za dwie modyfikacje związane ze zmianami w prawie zażądał dodatkowego wynagrodzenia za zrealizowanie prac z uwzględnieniem kalendarza legislacyjnego. Tymczasem w ramach umowy miał obowiązek dostosowania naszego rozwiązania do nowego prawa. Ten incydent przyspieszył tylko finalną decyzję” – wspomina Michał Kozieł. W efekcie, w Gaspolu powstaje własny działu rozwoju aplikacji biznesowych. Do 1 kwietnia br. firma zakończy jego budowę. Docelowo dział będzie liczył 32 osoby, z czego 20 konsultantów i programistów będzie odpowiedzialnych za utrzymanie i rozwój systemu Microsoft Dynamics AX (d. Axapta) oraz aplikacje mobilne. Firma wdrożyła metodologię Scrum. Gdy policzyliśmy koszty utrzymania systemu ERP siłami wewnętrznymi, są one o ok. 40% niższe niż stawki dostawców zewnętrznych. Do tego dochodzi znacznie szybsza i lepsza jakość wykonania modyfikacji” – podsumowuje Michał Kozieł.


Jak się okazuje, dziś coraz częściej firmy, zwłaszcza te o strukturach rozproszonych, decydują się na wzmacnianie kompetencji własnych w zakresie głównie rozwoju i utrzymania oprogramowania oraz baz danych, oddając na zewnątrz część infrastrukturalną. Część praktyków uważa także, że nawet jeżeli własny dział IT – zbudowany z głową oczywiście – będzie wykorzystywany w 50%, to w ogólnym rozrachunku może by wielokrotnie tańszy niż dewelopment, utrzymanie i rozwój powierzone na zewnątrz.

“Załóżmy, że dostawca i wewnętrzny dział IT mogą mieć tylko dwa stany: silny i słaby. Sinusoida, niedopasowanie pojawia się tylko wtedy, kiedy wewnętrzny dział IT lub dostawca jest słaby. W pierwszym przypadku dział IT nie wykorzysta dostawcy w kluczowych projektach i rozwiązaniach, a w drugim – dostawca na początku wejdzie z konkurencyjnymi cenami, co dla niego stanowi eldorado. Wniosek jest jeden. Musi być silny dział IT, aby coś z sensem wynegocjować z silnym dostawcą” – komentują inni.


Co zaś się tyczy cyklu współpracy, to pierwsza umowa jest zawsze dosyć dobrze zoptymalizowana kosztowo, bo wkładamy w to odpowiednio dużo wysiłku, firmy rzeczywiście walczą o to, aby pozyskać kontrakt. Problem leży w kolejnych umowach, gdyż bardzo często są one już zwykłym przedłużeniem obecnej. Wychodzi wówczas z tego sinusoida kosztowa i jak ktoś na to popatrzy, to mamy wówczas do czynienia z rozwojem i/lub ograniczaniem własnych działów IT.

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How Intel Xeon Processors Are Securing Tomorrow’s Food Supply

Tractor.pngOne of the challenges facing the world today is securing the food supply for everyone in the face of rising populations and environmental change. An important part of the solution is to analyze the DNA of crops in order to better understand what makes crops resistant to pests, drought, and other environmental stresses. That’s a huge challenge. The wheat genome is at least five times larger than the human genome and contains many repeated sequences. Bread wheat also has three distinct ancestral subgenomes, so trying to sequence and assemble the bread wheat genome is as difficult as sequencing and trying to interpret the genomes of a human, chimpanzee, and gorilla at the same time.

Genome Sequencing Powered by Intel Processors


The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC) has taken on that challenge, using one of the largest SGI UV 2000 HPC systems in the U.K., which is powered by the Intel Xeon processor E5-4650L product family.


Laboratory data comes from high-throughput sequencers that analyze the physical matter DNA. After this primary analysis, the data is interpreted to read out the sequence of letters that represent each strand of DNA. It is then submitted to quality control, assembly, and annotation, where TGAC’s scientists can then start to interpret this data in order to understand each part of the genome.


Richard Leggett, project leader for quality control and primary analysis at TGAC, explains the assembly process: “We think of a ‘genome’ as a string of millions or billions of letters that represent four basic biological compounds — the wheat genome, for example, is represented by a string of 17 billion characters. But the most common DNA sequencing machines can only ‘read’ around 100 to 300 letters of DNA at a time, so when we sequence a genome we have to split it up into lots of smaller chunks. Assembly is the process of putting them back together again; unfortunately, there is no way to know where in the genome each sequenced chunk comes from. It’s a bit like taking 30 copies of a novel, cutting up all the words, putting them together in a big pile and then trying to re-create the novel. It requires a lot of computing power.”

Xeon Proves Vital to Sequencing


Lab operations can process between 2 and 4 TB of data per week — approximately 2 TB of which then needs to be stored. The SGI UV 2000 is a large shared memory platform, which, in combination with the Intel Xeon processor E5-4650L product family, makes up to 4,096 cores and 64 TB of coherent main memory for in-memory computing available in a single image system. TGAC is using 20 TB of coherent main memory, 2,560 cores, and 64 TB of RAM.


TGAC’s scientists have now sequenced and assembled 17 of the 21 chromosomes of the wheat genome. Researchers estimate that the full wheat genome sequence will be available within three years. It will help take the guesswork out of breeding new crops and give farmers rapid insight into which crops can resist local pathogens, so crop failures can be avoided.


Watch the video below to find out more.



To continue the conversation on Twitter, please follow us at @IntelITCenter or use #ITCenter.


Jane Williams

Online Sales Development Manager

Intel Corporation

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Insights from NRF: Top Trends from Retail’s BIG Show 2015

Once the dust settles from Black Friday doorbusters and end-of-year clearance sales, retailers — and the tech vendors that work with them — gather in New York City for the BIG Show, the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) Annual Convention and EXPO.



Every year, the NRF EXPO offers intriguing glimpses into where the future of retail technology is heading, and this year was no exception. For 2015, I noted several big trends with the potential to revolutionize how retailers engage with and delight their customers. They included the following:


Endless Aisles


Consumer research reveals that even though tech-savvy shoppers do a significant amount of their buying online, they still love the in-store shopping experience. Intelligent endless aisle solutions enable retailers to offer the best of both worlds with self-service kiosks that expand inventory selection to include not only product in store, but also product in other retail locations. Advances in design for the classic PC have ignited innovation within retail solutions. In addition to the traditional tower design, new PC categories including All-in-One and Mini PC are enabling manageable and engaging virtual merchandizing solutions that easily tap into a store’s ecommerce systems to give customers a convenient way to explore an infinite array of additional products, sizes, colors, and options and arrange for fast home delivery.


4K Signage


Store signage has taken a huge leap forward with 4K ultra-high-definition (UHD) displays. With four times higher resolution than 1080p HD, 4K displays are not only capable of blowing customers’ minds with stunning detail and color, but, as part of a digital signage solution, they also allow retailers to offer customers richer shopping experiences with dynamic, personalized promotions and immersive, interactive displays throughout their stores.


3D Meets VR


Another recent breakthrough pushing retail solutions into the next dimension is the ability to capture 3D images. Intel RealSense 3D cameras make it increasingly easy to scan anything from auto parts to xylophones in highly detailed 3D, and give customers a more complete and appealing view of products.


Meanwhile, augmented reality solutions such as MemoryMirror enable Neiman Marcus and other clothing retailers to offer large screen digital fitting rooms that delight their customers with virtual try-ons, 360-degree views, and the ability to remember and share outfits.


A common thread linking all of these emerging retail solutions is how they utilize the performance and versatility of today’s Tower, Mini, and All-in-One PCs to blur the lines between online and in-store to offer customers consistently outstanding experiences everywhere.


Want more trends and highlights from retail’s BIG Show? Visit Intel’s NRF 2015 page.


To continue this conversation on Twitter, please use #IntelDesktop.

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Intel Atom x7 Processor Powers Microsoft’s Thinnest, Lightest Portable Device – the Surface 3

We’re thrilled that Microsoft today announced its newest addition to the Surface family, the Surface 3, powered by the recently announced Intel® AtomTM x7 processor, the highest performing Intel Atom processor currently available. Surface 3 powered by the Intel Atom … Read more >

The post Intel Atom x7 Processor Powers Microsoft’s Thinnest, Lightest Portable Device – the Surface 3 appeared first on Technology@Intel.

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