SMB Nation Blog

SMB Nation has been serving the Bainbridge Island area since 2001, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Harry’s New Side Hustle in Analytics

Pre-recession, my basic mo·dus op·e·ran·di (MO) was to take fun seriously in business. I’ve emerged battle-tested over the past decade and have adopted a tougher stance on life: Lead…or follow…or get out of the way. I still try to have fun where I can find it but the economy isn’t as fun as a decade ago and neither am I!

First, before you proceed, I’d ask you to peruse my LinkedIn profile HERE so you  bigdatacan get the foundation to understand the context I’m about to present. Hopefully you’ll note that I’m committed to education both formal and semi-formal (that would be my technology-related certifications). Second, my goal is to lead by example and have your follow along and join the parade. Third, as I’ve opined many times over the past few years. Small Business Server is GONE and it’s time to reinvent ourselves. You’ve done it before; you can do it again.

Side Hustle
It’s all Karl Palachuck’s fault. About 20-months ago at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (2016), it announced a “degree” in Data Science. Karl signed up to participate in this and I openly questioned whether it could be called a “degree” as Microsoft is not an accredited University. Fast forward the movie and the program has been rebranded a professional certificate (which is appropriate) and the title is Microsoft Professional Program. There are three majors: Data Science, Big Data and DevOps. Note that these are “earned” certificates; not honorary. These are the real deal.

I’m pursuing the Big Data certificate for a few reasons. It’s how I’m wired (I’m not a developer and flunked out of C++ years ago). I was a SQL Server MCSE in the late ‘90s to support my employer (Clark Nuber) and its vaunted Microsoft Great Plains Dynamics accounting consultant practice (once Great Plains Dynamics abandoned Btrieve on the NetWare platform, it adopted SQL Server as the engine on a Windows NT Server network). The Big Data certificate is a natural extension of my background in this area. Finally, many readers know I recently exited a Seattle-based Big Data startup in Predictive Analytics and I want to go all in and double down in this area as the New Harry!

Program Referrals

You’d be amazed concerning the support I have received when I have made mention of my latest education side hustle. After a brief mention in one of the recent MSP Tech Talk lectures (you can sign up HERE for Spring quarter where one of the lectures is a deeper dive on marketing analytics), I received several inquiries about the program and the sign-up link. Ditto a catch-up coffee last Friday with Brandon from Bainbridge Technology and his wife (she has a data analyst background). Finally, there was my friend who works for a State of California’s I-Bank (Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank) and is seeking to take his career to the next level with his passion concerning alternative energy such as solar power (yes – Big Data plays nicely in science to).

Just ‘Da Facts
I know. I know. Get to the fricking point Harry!

In the Microsoft Professional Program Big Data certification HERE – there are ten required courses that take 12-30 hours each to complete. The education outcome is to train you in eight new skills. Each course runs for three months and starts at the beginning of a quarter. January—March, April—June, July—September, and October —December. The capstone runs for four weeks at the beginning of each quarter: January, April, July, October. Accordingly, I have budgeted two years to complete this journey. Not only do I want to acquire new skills along the way but I want to demonstrate forward professional progress. Again, I implore you to join me right here right now.

Last missive. This is essentially free for Microsoft Partners. I consider this to be in the neighborhood of a several thousand-dollar subsidy compared to what you might pay for other programs. You can pay $99 USD to receive a completion certificate suitable for framing – something I’ll treat myself to upon successful completion.

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3 Data Science Methods and 10 Algorithms for Big Data Experts

Data Science

One of the hottest questions in Information Management now is how to deal with Big Data in all its applications: how to gather, store, secure, and – possibly most importantly – interpret what we collect. Organizations that are able to apply effective data analysis to massive amounts of data gain significant competitive advantages in their industries.

Organizations no longer question the value of gathering and storing such data but are far more heavily focused on methods to make sense of that all the valuable information that data represents. Although security and storage remain critical issues for IT departments, organizations are finding that their commitment to Big Data can’t stop there – they must be able to make sense of their data, to know what data is valid, relevant, and usable, as well as how to use it.

The more data an organization has, the more difficult it is to process, store, and analyze, but conversely, the more data the organization has, the more accurate its predictions can be. As well big data comes with big responsibility. Big data requires military-grade encryption keys to keep information safe and confidential.

This is where data science comes in. Many organizations, faced with the problem of being able to measure, filter, and analyze data, are turning to data science for solutions – hiring data scientists, people who are specialists in making sense out of a huge amount of data. Generally, this means making use of statistical models to create algorithms to sort, classify, and process data.

What is Data Science?

Data science has been a term in the computing field since around 1960 when it was first floated as a substitute for the term “computer science”. Over the next twenty years or so, it gradually came to mean that blend of statistics and methodology that specifically pertained to data analysis. However, it was not until the much more recent emergence of Big Data and its role in organizational development and direction, that data science began to be a fundamental requirement of any organization working out how to analyze such massive amounts of data.

Data science is interdisciplinary, incorporating elements of statistics, data mining, and predictive analysis, and focusing on processes and systems that extract knowledge and insights from data. It is also known as “analytics transformation” because the goal is to “transform” raw data into usable insights. It has also been called “industrial analytics” because the context is industrial rather than scientific – to analyze data for competitive or quality improvements that can be gained by having a better understanding of one’s customers, potential customers, service model, and almost any aspect of the organization that can be represented in bytes.

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3Q2016 MSP Report

Last week we enjoyed our largest audience of the year on the weekly webinar for good reason: it was the 3Q2016 MSP Report with industry updates and forward looking statements. I was joined by respected blogger and analyst karl and harryKarl Palachuk as we talked about yesterday, today and tomorrow. Here are some select findings (to capture the entire conversation – please replay the webinar here).

Big Data
Even in the SMB sector, you can have the larger conversation about Big Data. My own thoughts including using this as a “gateway drug” to get embedded into other departments at your clients. For example, technology decisions are increasingly being made in the Marketing department (where the money is as Willie Sutton said about bank robbing Many of us have a SQL Server background and know Excel well. Those two cool tools translate very well to Big Data analytics and visualization so you are well on your way to going from “Computer Guy” to “Data Nerd” and making a few bucks along the way.

Karl’s take on Big Data was different. He contends that the RMM tools are collecting snitz loads of operational data the is predictive for MSPs. You can forecast maintenance based on mean failure rates and the like to proactively serve your clients. Huge value adds.

Finally, our friend Anurag at TechAisle, our research partner, is blogging up a storm on the Big Data opportunity for MSPs from a business model vantage point. You need all three opinions (myself, Karl, Anurag) as you explore this potential new line of work.

Part of the report was to share our more of our annual survey results. I covered off on education, income, economic attitude and our demographic. Karl really keyed in on how our majority of our community is skewed to the “mature” side to put it mildly. We’re landing in the 45+ age range folks. And as Karl articulated, we’re not getting younger nor is the partner community. We’re not attracting youngins’ to an IT Pro/MSP lifestyle. Karl has literally started a populist uprising proclaiming that ageism has to end and we need new blood and new communities. You can listen to Karl on this topic by replaying the webinar here).

Other topics in the webinar report include

  • Mergers and Acquisitions
  • Gossip
  • Industry Earnings
  • 2nd Half Trends
  • And a Veeam moment
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Defining the 'I' In Small Business CIO

Story by Tom Flynn - 

Big data and analytics market growth is far outpacing overall IT market growth, and that means the need for IT professionals who know what to do with the piles of data collected by businesses is growing just as fast. In fact, the McKinsey Global Institute predicts as many as 190,000 data scientist positions in the United States will remain unfilled by 2018. On top of that, some 1.5 million managers and analysts will lack the skills to understand and make decisions based on big data analysis.Big Data

“To capture the full economic potential of big data, companies and policy makers will have to address the talent gap,” McKinsey says. Otherwise, there will be a lot of unfilled potential in U.S. businesses to leverage big data and analytics to hone processes, develop new products, accelerate go-to-market strategies and measure customer sentiment.

The sector most likely to suffer from this skills shortage is the SMB market, which typically lacks the resources to vie for talent against large, deep-pockets competitors. For organizations in that situation, the answer could be to partner with a managed services provider (MSP)--one that delivers easy-to-use data analytics tools that enable SMBs to compete at the level of the big players.

And the time to act is now, since the big data and analytics market is poised to grow at a 26 percent yearly rate to $41.5 billion in 2018, six times faster than the overall IT market, according to IDC projections. That means if you can’t figure out how to leverage data analytics soon, others surely will – and some of them might just eat your lunch.

Click here to read more.

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Parallels Summit Day Three: Company News and Insights from Serguei Beloussov

Parallels Summit LogoWednesday marked the final day of the Parallels summit, and I wanted to take some time to not only give a quick summary of that morning’s keynote from Arconis CEO, Serguei Beloussov, but to also cover Parallels’ company announcements.

I’ll begin with the news Parallels released earlier this week in the form of a press release. Parallels announced that it has completely redesigned its Parallels Cloud University, an online (browser-based) training program for business and technical roles in service providers’ companies. According to Parallels, this training allows service provider partners to quickly onboard new employees.

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CompTIA Study: Big Data Promises Businesses to Evaluate Data Needs

Comptia logoCompTIA’s second annual Big Data Insights and Opportunities study confirms growing familiarity with the concepts surrounding big data, which has sparked greater levels of interest across the C-suite. A full 78 percent of organizations say they feel more positive about big data as a business initiative this year compared to a year ago.

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IBM Acquires UrbanCode to Help SMBs Quickly Deliver Mobile, Cloud, Big Data

IBM said that it has acquired UrbanCode Inc., a provider of automated software delivery to help businesses quickly release and update mobile, social, big data, cloud applications. 

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