Paul Maritz says the internet of things has convinced even giants like GE they need to radically shift direction

Pivotal CEO Paul Maritz at Structure Data 2014.

Pivotal CEO Paul Maritz says the potential opportunities — and competitive pressures — that are being created by industry shifts like the internet of things are forcing even large industrial giants such as General Electric (one of the financial backers behind Pivotal) to change the way they think about IT and their data infrastructure.

The former head of computing at EMC and former CEO of VMWare told Gigaom’s Structure Data conference in New York that for the first time, he is seeing large companies bypass their legacy infrastructure and create new systems using technologies like Hadoop.

“I am seeing some major enterprises come to some fairly radical conclusions,” Maritz told Om Malik during a one-on-one interview. “We’re starting to see some players who have a clear enough line of sight to a new opportunity or a new competitive threat that they are willing to build fresh and to leave their existing IT behind.”

This is stretching across industry groups from agriculture to aerospace to medicine, Maritz said. The opportunity isn’t just about extracting data and then trying to derive insights from it by analyzing that data, according to the Pivotal CEO — it’s about doing all of that in real-time, so that you can either help a customer with a problem or give them something useful.

“It’s about catching customers in the act,” said Maritz, “and being able to provide highly relevant and highly contextual information.”

To take just one example, the Pivotal CEO said that large telecom companies have gotten used to just being providers of data pipes or bandwidth, but as the industry becomes more competitive they are having to understand the behavior and needs of their individual users at a much more micro level — which very few are actually prepared for.

“They treat everyone the same, but they need to know how to differentiate in real time,” said Maritz. “They have to take the offline profile data they’ve built up and intersect it with high-speed real-time data coming off their backbones. That is now going to become a matter of life and death for those industries, but there is nothing within their existing IT systems that can do that.”

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Photo courtesy of Jakub Mosur

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