Ubiquitous analytics could represent the next phase of the information age. New business opportunity models are emerging, built on insights, enabled by big data and deeply integrated into operational processes, enabling everything from an efficiency focus through to the monetization of data and the creation of entire new lines of business.

Bold words indeed.

Today, business leaders increasingly understand the art of the possible. The rise of capital light, data driven startups that are fast, agile, with no legacy revenue streams are a key threat that over half of leaders expect to face. Leaders (64%) see big data changing traditional business boundaries – so we have clearly moved beyond hype and into “how do we respond?”

The fight for the insight

Tom Goodwin highlights“Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate. Something interesting is happening.”

Tom outlines the fight for the customer interface. Looking beneath this, I think that it is the battle for customer insights created via the customer interface that is driving the disruption.

The business is constrained

What is holding the enterprise back from exploiting new models? The easiest thing is to blame IT; the majority consider the speed of insight generation to be constrained by the IT process.

However, that is as much a function of the approach taken by technologies like the Enterprise Data Warehouse than an indicator that IT is “failing”.  Existing information systems are often suitable for historical reporting but they lack the ability to deal with predictive analytics, unstructured data and the sheer volume of data sets.

It is possible - GE have built a machine data centric global platform, Predix, to monetize the data from all of their machines. Able to ingest massive quantities of data, and provide predictive analytics, it provides a business model that simply wasn’t possible before.


What is clear is that many companies are already starting this transformation and seeing significant new business value from breaking out of traditional information silos. However, in the business quest to create business value from analytics IT is being repeatedly circumvented (>1/3 of the time).

To resolve, the reality will be a combination of strategy, evolution, cultural shift and technology augmentation.  I see an emerging, collaborative dialogue emerging between the business leaders and IT:

‘Be my data broker…’

  • Manage all of my data. I don’t know its future value, don’t throw any away.
  • Free up data from other silos in our business.
  • Augment it with other data (e.g. open data) that will allow me to try new correlations

‘Help me create new insights from that data’

  • We need an analytics platform with “sandboxes”
  • I don’t want to re-invent the wheel, broker other business insights
  • I want to ask “what if?”  -  I don’t mind failing fast providing it is low cost

 ‘Help me take capitalize on insights’

  • When I find powerful insights, scale at speed.
  • I can’t wait 6 months…

We know that the needed big data technologies are now enterprise grade (industrialized, scalable and well supported), and skills are scarce, so expect IT to ask for investment!
Functions within IT need to evolve, with the new importance of time to insight & time to valueand this is probably the end of long cycle roll-outs.   

Emerging enterprise grade platforms like Business Data Lake provide a way to augment existing investments to create, industrialize and integrate insights into business processes.

The winners are likely to be those that can master both a cultural shift as well as a technology evolution, where the business and IT can re-unite. It will be evolution for some, revolution for others; the risk of status quo is not just the loss of opportunity but also a fast widening gap between business and the internal technology functions.

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