By Doug Laney
Big data has given businesses a window into valuable streams of information from customer purchasing habits to inventory status. However, internal data streams give only a limited picture, especially with the growth of digital business.
Three trends Gartner has identified describe information’s ability to transform business processes over the next few years. Our predictions include:
By 2020, information will be used to reinvent, digitalize or eliminate 80% of business processes and products from a decade earlier.
As the presence of the Internet of Things (IoT) — such as connected devices, sensors and smart machines — grows, the ability of things to generate new types of real-time information and to actively participate in an industry’s value stream will also grow.
Customers, employees and citizens will become engaged principally through digital means. With operational processes quickly becoming digitalized, traditional analog and manual processes will be automated, including both physical and human elements. Many, if not most, decisions will be algorithmic, based on automated judgment.
Essentially, things become agents for themselves, for people and for businesses. Think of the car that alerts emergency services and an insurance company or the smart thermostat that schedules service. The added connectivity, communications and intelligence of things will make many of them agents for services that are currently requested and delivered via human intervention.
By 2017, more than 30% of enterprise access to broadly based big data will be via intermediary data broker services, serving context to business decisions.
Digital business demands real-time situation-awareness. This includes insights into what goes on both inside and outside the organization. How do weather patterns impact inventory? More so, how do this season’s customer preferences as expressed in social media suggest greater or lesser inventory?
The enterprise data available in organizations’ vaults is increasingly insufficient to provide the kind of context awareness able to support competitive digital business in marketing, transportation, financial, manufacturing, healthcare and other business decisions. However, the broad scope of externally accessible data is highly fragmented, voluminous, “noisy” and distributed. It is found in hundreds of thousands of Web and social sites, open government data, and premium data prepared by increasingly powerful data brokers.
Enter a new category of business-centric cloud services that delivers data to be used as context in business decisions, human or automated. These information services (or data/decision brokers) will become an essential part of intelligent business operations and smart business decisions.
Your company’s biggest database isn’t your transaction, CRM, ERP or other internal database. Rather it’s the Web itself and the world of exogenous data now available from syndicated and open data sources.
By 2017, more than 20% of customer-facing analytic deployments will provide product tracking information leveraging the IoT.
Fueled by the Nexus of Forces (mobile, social, cloud and information), customers now demand a lot more information from their vendors. The rapid dissemination of the IoT will create a new style of customer-facing analytics — product tracking — where increasingly less expensive sensors will be embedded into all types of products.
These sensors not only provide geospatial information (where the product is right now) but also performance information (how well the product is functioning). My new SUV is en route and currently in Arizona, or my new SUV is ready for its first oil change.This creates an opportunity to improve transparency and strengthen customer and partner relationships. It can become a key differentiator and a key part of your business model.
Access the Global Pool of Information
The ability to transform the business to compete in an emerging digital economy will be contingent on the organization’s ability to curate, manage and leverage big data, IoT content, social media, local and federal government data, data from partners, suppliers and customers, and other exogenous data sources that are materializing.
In 2015, business and IT leaders, especially information executives such as chief data officers, must make concerted efforts to transform from an inward focus on information management and value generation to participating in the growing global pool of information assets.
(The author is a research vice president at Gartner.)