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By Gina Roos

Avnet Technology Solutions has launched a big data and analytics practice in the United States and Canada. The Avnet Practice+ for Analytics helps Hewlett-Packard’s channel partners implement and manage big data initiatives based on HP Vertica Analytics and Converged Infrastructure platforms. The practice bundles technology products and services with enablement and go-to-market capabilities.

The key driver behind the Avnet+ Practice for Analytics is the huge amount of structured and unstructured (non-database format) data that is being compiled by companies, said Chris Swahn, vice president and general manager of the HP Solutions Group at Avnet Technology Solutions, Americas.

“The thirst for understanding what all this data means is enormous,” said Swahn. “I see big data analytics being an engine of opportunity for our partners to help many customers across industries.”

Avnet, HP’s largest enterprise services distributor, said it has made a significant investment in the big data practice to help channel partners capitalize on huge growth opportunities. The global big data technology and services market is forecast to grow at a 31.7 percent compound annual growth rate, reaching $28.8 billion in 2016, according to IDC.

Avnet is giving channel partners and their customers the tools to understand this data to best use resources to increase their effectiveness and profitability, as well as to reduce costs, said Swahn. Companies that are mining their existing big data inventory run the gamut of vertical markets, including health care, finance, retail, energy/utilities, government entities and social media businesses, he said.

As an example, in the health care industry, hospitals, research centers, physicians’ offices and pharmacists all generate and work with mounds of data, which is usually contained in separate data silos. “This data could include medication information, doctor visits, test results, insurance benefits information, payment history, etc.,” said Swahn “Using big data and analytics [such as partners leveraging HP and Avnet’s Practice+ for Analytics], all this customer data can be filtered, analyzed and turned into actionable intelligence to help with issues such as detecting claims fraud, off-brand drug use, chronic illness prevention and health care cost modeling.”

The goal is to enable channel partners to leverage their HP expertise to help customers manage and gain business intelligence from their data, and to address customers’ business challenges by using big data to improve efficiency and to make better business decisions, said Swahn. A big part of the platform centers on partners developing information management strategies around their customers’ big data and helping them implement strategic analytics.

To support partners, Avnet offers several services. These range from Avnet-developed, packaged, on-demand and custom implementation services for the HP Vertica Analytics Platform and Hadoop to vertical market enablement and training that leverage the company’s SolutionsPath methodology. In addition to a dedicated analytics team that can help in demonstrations, architecting complete services and developing road maps for the offerings, Avnet said it offers a two-day assessment service to help users understand their data environments and the strategic approach needed to achieve business goals.

Channel partners can use these services to “augment or supplement skill sets where they need additional bench strength,” said Swahn.

Channel partners said the new practice will help them create tools and services to make sense of the data being stored in their customers’ IT systems. Many companies have a tremendous amount of unstructured data and information that they are trying to sift through, and they desperately want to make sense of it to make better and faster business decisions, said Al Chien, executive vice president at systems solution provider Dasher Technologies.

As an example, marketing’s job is to help promote sales, identify sales opportunities, track buying habits and patterns, develop more successful campaigns and achieve better ROIs, said Chien. He explained that by analyzing and using the information pooled from Web-based data, marketing can extract certain nuggets of business intelligence that will help them develop more effective and customizable marketing campaigns based on specific criteria.

Gina Roos, a Channel Insider contributing writer, specializes in technology and the channel.