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Nero to Neurons to Networks

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 8/10/2015 Graham Ahearne
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The ancient Roman emperor Nero gets a bad rap. He's infamous for allegedly fiddling while Rome burned, and in fact has been accused of starting that fire to clear room for a palace he was building -- all in all, not a great move for approval numbers.
We have a pretty decent grasp on history because, at a certain point, people began to write things down. Reading those accounts from contemporaries and near-contemporaries is the first step in knowing anything about Nero. But what if we are unsatisfied with second- and third-hand accounts, and wanted to know more?
Imagine that you could go back in time and interview everyone who ever knew Nero, and the emperor himself. You would be able to gather much more information from many more angles by hearing directly from people who had interacted with the ill-reputed emperor. Undoubtedly, you could piece together a much clearer, more realistic picture. But you'd still find yourself with many doubts. Human memory is fickle and unreliable, and friends of the emperor might remember things very differently from enemies of the emperor. It would still be very hard to tell who was objective and who had been swayed by any number of outside factors.
Now imagine that I gave you a tool that read, stored and analyzed every neuron that ever fired in someone's brain. You are able to take that tool, plug it into the brain of every citizen of Rome circa 54 AD, and have access to all that data. You could understand every time a citizen talked to another, every time they heard something about Nero, where they heard it from, the thought they had afterward, the emotional state they were in -- in short, you would have a definitive answer to the question -- how bad a guy was Nero, really? And if you get really good at sorting out those neurons, you can organize them on a single page, and show them to your history professor: the data shows that Nero was just misunderstood.
The metaphor can end here. We all know that we are talking about your company's IT infrastructure, the network, and its data. Reading a secondary source is like talking to someone with a friend in the IT department -- they can tell you generally that​ the internet is slow or this page isn't working, but not much else. Interviewing contemporaries is like talking to the machines on your network -- each has a limited view of the big picture, not too much idea what the others are doing, and there's no good way of knowing which have been compromised or retroactively altered. But plug in your magic machine, which looks at​ ALL of​ the network packet data -- the one true​ and unbiased​ record ​of what's happening in your business -- and then presents it to you in a useful way -- and you can understand in a single glance exactly what went wrong, where it went wrong, why it went wrong, and how to fix it.
The most surprising part is that the capability to monitor network packet data in real-time exists, but is drastically underutilized for strategic business insight. Current usage is akin to having the magical brain machine, capable of recording every neuron, and only using it to ensure that someone is alive. We're missing out on a world of insight and learnings that could be invaluable to any company depends on its network -- and in today's world, that is most of them. We need to stop missing out the knowledge that is encased in network packet data, and start mining it intelligently and efficiently to help our businesses succeed. ​

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