Now, this is an interesting deal. Interesting not just because it involves satellites and Big Data, but because it goes beyond the normal supplier-customer confines of an outsourcing deal.

The deal is between Atos and the European Space Agency (ESA) and is to deliver and operate the Copernicus Data and Information Access Services (DIAS), which is where all of the data from the Copernicus Earth Observation program and the Sentinel satellites, amongst other sources, is collated and stored. All of this climate data and imagery will, by June of this year, be made available to companies to exploit for their own benefit, and it is Atos who now have responsibility for building and commercialising these services.

Atos is heading up a consortium of a number of providers, including DLR, e-Geos, EOX, GAF, Sinergise, Spacemetric, Thales Alenia Space and T-Systems. At the heart of the cloud-based offering is Atos’s Codex portfolio of data services which will look to provide analytics and cognitive capabilities to turn raw satellite data into valuable insights.

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It is envisaged that the data will be used by industrial players, institutions such as national space agencies, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups for such applications as: scientists understanding the impact of climate change; governments and cities better managing and anticipating urban development; oil and gas companies evaluating and managing risk; and farmers better managing their crops and yield.

So, all in all, a deal that should have plenty of benefits for our planet. With end-to-end responsibility for commercialising the data, Atos have moved into a unique space for outsourcing providers (or ‘digital transformation companies’, as everyone wants to be called nowadays) that actually brings some meaning to the word ‘partnership’. And the fact that the deal is based around big data, it’s perfectly aligned with the way that businesses are moving today – seeing and using their data as a valuable asset. Atos have done well to secure this deal and should look to exploit their growing capability in this area further.

Andrew Burgess has been the lead architect within several major change projects, including strategic development, IT transformation and outsourcing, in a wide range of industries across four continents. He has developed and implemented sourcing strategies for global organisations, running sourcing programs and helping re-organise IT departments to maximise their value from sourcing. Andrew was recently awarded ‘Automation Champion of the Year’ by the GSA, the industry association and professional body for the global sourcing industry. He is widely considered to be a leading expert in the growing Legal Transformation and Outsourcing market and has recently written ‘The Rise of Legal Services Outsourcing’ in collaboration with the London School of Economics (LSE). Andrew’s latest book, ‘The Executive Guide to Artificial Intelligence‘ has recently been published by Palgrave Macmillan. Andrew is a council member of the Global Sourcing Association and is Head of Consulting at HG Insights.