Can your business data predict major change?

As I was writing my previous post about data chaos, I took a TED break and listened to a talk by…

BTW, if you don’t already feed your head with TED talks, get over to and pick something random to watch. Or watch something in one of your fields of interest. Do it once a day or once a week. You’ll thank me.


Anyway, I was watching a talk by BCG consultant Phillip Evans titled “How Data Will Transform Business”. It’s from 2013, but everything at TED is pretty much timeless. The point to Evans’ talk was that big data is changing the way business strategy works. But that wasn’t the detail that peaked my interest.

He made a point that business strategy planners and executors can no longer cling to traditional value chain assumptions. Business advantages that are built upon proprietary knowledge in the value chain can become weaknesses as exponentially expanding publicly/community generated digital information (information with an IP address, as he called it) becomes available at equal (often zero) cost to all.

Evans used the demise of the encyclopedia business in what I thought was a bit of an antiquated but relevant example. When the Web, and specifically Wikipedia, took off, encyclopedia customers not only lost interest in leather bound books, but they also became the authors of their replacements – and they work for free!

When you know what limits to expect from a predetermined set of your business data, you will get predictable results. Predictable results include alerts when a threshold is broken or a milestone is not met. But what about unexpected results that you don’t even know about? These are changes that are happening within and outside your enterprise which affect efficiency and possibly even your ability to execute your future business strategy.

The point of the talk was focused on big data. But the message that I heard also applies even when considering only the sources of data generated inside the enterprise: Regardless how big or experienced you are in your industry, when you do not derive benefit from the critical data lurking in your enterprise, you could be missing timely opportunities. The equalizer comes in the form of data discovery and analysis tools that can help to reveal business patterns that were previously impossible to see using data that previously seemed impenetrable.

I wonder if there are any businesses that are truly future proof and immune to the democratization of digital data. Magazine and newspaper publishers are still struggling to figure out how to generate revenue from digital customers; Gadgets and tools like cameras, alarm clocks, GPSes, TVs, radios and even encyclopedias have lost their relevance in the wake of the mobile data revolution; Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and other social networks have changed the way businesses communicate with their markets; YouTube and other streaming services are changing the entertainment industry. The list goes on. Some of the most robust service-oriented businesses including insurance, banking and healthcare, could not compete today without the tools to evaluate business intelligence that can reveal market changes which would otherwise remain buried in the data until its too late.

With BI tools that incorporate new, dynamic data sources and make it easier to see anomalies and trends, you might find that your business strategy is shifting more frequently. But in a world of connected data, staying on course can be risky. Find out more about how Panorama Necto helps enterprises find the messages in the data.

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