Most of us have heard the saying “every company is an IT company.” This indicates that IT has become the core of every business process. For the vast majority of companies, IT may range from a necessary evil to a differentiating factor, but is always critical to running the business.

Whereas IT is an asset that enables the business to run, the data assets of many companies are now ripe for permeating through IT layers and transforming the business.

Prediction: In 2014, many companies will start to use data to profoundly transform their business and will either outright monetize their data assets, or at least exploit it to create new business models or take advantage of untapped segments.

The most obvious example of a data company is Google. Google’s business model leverages data they collect to sell services – advertising services, mapping services, data enrichment services, geotargeting services and more.

“Traditional economy” companies are not all laggards in that field. Several grocery chains are known to resell to manufacturers the consumption habits of their customers, and the predictive maintenance data that airplane manufacturers provide to airlines comes at a cost – even if that cost is hidden/included in a broader maintenance contract.

However, what we are seeing now is companies profoundly transforming their business, sometimes even pivoting their raison d’être. A recent example transpired of a company that sells accounting software and made a tuck-in acquisition – ostensibly to provide value-added content to their clients, but also very likely to analyze their behavior/needs based on consumption of these additional services with the goal to increase sales of the primary service.  Another theory is that the same company could detect high-net-worth individuals with money available to invest and act as a private equity broker of sorts. Now of course, these two theses are pure speculation, but even if not correct in this specific case, it won’t be long before another company figures out a similar model.

By the way, this is all part of the field of Infonomics, the economics of information, a domain that Gartner’s Doug Laney actively researches in a highly inspiring way.

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