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A Big Data Partner Revolution: Maritz On Vertical Expertise, Education

Interested in in establishing a beachhead in the big data market? Pivotal CEO Paul Maritz offers solution providers a few thoughts on vertical expertise and education.

First and foremost, Maritz says solution providers must understand a specific vertical market segment. That business knowledge, in fact, is at the heart of building the big data services that will drive businesses in the future. It's a natural evolution of the solution provider model in an era where IT decisions and budgets increasingly are being driven by business units rather than IT departments. "You can't just go in and sell raw data capabilities," said Maritz in an exclusive interview with CRN in advance of the formal launch of Pivotal. "It doesn't help to go in and say, 'I can give you some of this big data.' You have to go in and say, 'Here is how you can transform your business by understanding larger and more diverse data sets.' So I would either try to partner with or acquire or develop that [business] expertise and then say, 'OK, how do I use that to pull through [these] underlying [big data] capabilities?' "

Maritz is advising solution providers to get educated on big data. EMC, to its credit, is offering courses on data science and big data analytics for business transformation, available at, to do just that.

[Related: CRN Exclusive: 20 Tough Big Data Questions For Pivotal's Paul Maritz ]

Solution providers would be wise to heed Maritz's advice on getting business- and big-data-savvy—that is, if they want to succeed in the future. Big data services and applications are destined to determine new winners and losers in every single business.

What is exciting about the Pivotal initiative is Maritz is driving a big data platform that solution providers will be able to leverage to deliver game-changing business services. It's a far different play than any of the current Web services players, including Amazon, which is far more focused on driving a low-priced commodity platform than building a services platform that effectively becomes the operating system for a new era of big data services.

Amazon may have a strong Web services foothold right now. But my money is on Maritz and company to deliver a big data application services ecosystem that makes Amazon look like small potatoes.

If you want a sign of just what kind of big money there is in big data, look no further than solution provider Think Big Analytics, which has scored $3 million in funding from angel investor and former Cisco executive Daniel Scheinman and venture capital firm WI Harper Group. Not bad for a 50-employee company that is only three years old.

Ron Bodkin, founder and CEO of Think Big Analytics, which is advising companies on how to build and deploy big data applications, says sales have more than doubled each year since he started the business. "It's definitely an exciting time to be in this business," he said. "There is so much to be done. We are really enthusiastic about building our business and being a catalyst for tremendous value creation."

Business value creation is what big data is all about. Those solution providers that get it will thrive. Those that don't will die.

BackTalk: Steve Burke writes a monthly opinion column on You can reach him via email at


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