Smart Enterprise Magazine

Volume 6, Number 2, 2012

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Smart Strategies BIG DATA, Big Innovation "D Smart CIOs are mining their organizations' huge data stores for insights that lead to business innovation. | By Tom Farre ata is the new oil" goes an analogy making the rounds. Just as oil powered a good portion of the 20th century economy, data is driving business innovation and efficiency in today's 21st century enterprise. This naturally turns the discussion to "big data" — the terabyte and now petabyte-class data stores that companies are accumulating from their internal systems, social media and the Web, external sources and a new wave of machine sensors. The more data you have, it would seem, the more potential for innovation. Yet there's a twist to the "data is oil" analogy, according to Peter Hinssen, Chairman of consulting firm Across Technology and the author of two books on business and technology. Hinssen notes that in the early 20th century, John D. Rockefeller became the world's richest man not by amassing the most oil from the Earth's wells, but by controlling the oil-refinery process through his company, Standard Oil. "Leveraging big data is not about having the most data or the most capacity," Hinssen says, "but about refining that data, turning it into insight at the speed dictated by the market." Indeed, big data is poised to usher in a transformative era in which business decisions are informed more by data, analysis and scientific testing than by opinion and intuition. Enterprises can harness data analytics for sustainable com- petitive advantage. Done correctly, data analytics empowers employees at all levels with information that helps them make smarter decisions. "Analytics increases corporate intelligence," says Wayne Eckerson, Director of Research at TechTarget, an IT content provider. "That's something you can never package or systematize — and that competitors can't duplicate." Big data analytics is still in its infancy. For competitive reasons, successful use cases, let alone concrete ROI examples, are still hard to come by; companies are keeping their successes close to the vest. 2012 • SMART ENTERPRISE 23 ILLUSTRATION: BRAD HAMMAN

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