Only the other day I blogged about another data acquisition – see Who is Buying Which Data Companies?. Last week, in the US print edition of the Financial Times, I spied a small almost innocuous article that grabbed my attention (and inflamed my blogging desire). It is, “Sony puts data and AI at heart of survival plan.”

The quote from Sony’s new CEO was top-drawer: “The data mega players [such as Google, Amazon, and Facebook] are so powerful, that are capable of doing all kinds of things.” He goes on, “The big challenge for our survival lies in the extent to which we can take control of data and AI. I personally feel a strong sense of crisis.” This seems to me to be so revealing and insightful. His comment talk to the power of AI in discovering new insights as well as the power of data to power those insight-developing capabilities.

Sony, a consumer electronics conglomerate, is stating publicly that the real source of competitive advantage is not a device, or a handheld or any such product. The real power lays with how decisions are made, and the data on which all such decisions are taken. Even the massive hype today associated with analytics and dashboards and visualization is bypassed. At the heart, the center of all things, is data.

This idea will not sit well with many. How many business leaders would describe their organization as a data-business? For some, perhaps a minority, this point is obvious. But what it means and how firm’s react is what matters.

Who are data companies? Is it a single, simple, class of vendor or offering? What data is being acquired? Who is acquiring data that tomorrow will fuel your decisions? Will your AI be held hostage to someone elses data? A competitor? Who will be the last company standing and getting paid for the data on which an industry operates?

Now these are interesting questions. I certainly don’t have all the answers. But I recon these might be real good questions to ask someone.

(This post originally appeared on Andrew White's Gartner blog, which can be viewed here).

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