Data has become the most abundant and important resource in today’s global economy. For that resource to be converted into value, data has to be refined, easily accessible, and analyzed. The ultimate goal is to turn raw data into vital insights. This has become the critical underpinning of any successful, modern business today.
Insights from big data help businesses make better decisions, deepen customer engagement, improve operations, prevent threats and fraud, and develop new sources of revenue. Insight-driven companies are more competitive, agile, responsive, and bold. Their intimate knowledge of their customers and the market in which they operate allows them to take strategic risks that others may view as radical.
Insight-driven businesses are not defined by their size. They range from startups to multinational corporations. Not surprisingly, they are easy to spot. They are the companies most adept at securing new rounds of funding, creating new markets, transforming industries, or introducing new business models that shatter tradition. To put it simply, they are smarter and they are fundamentally changing the face of business.
Real-time insights are the difference between a nimble business that can see change and adapt quickly, and an antiquated model that is constantly trying to catch up. To be a trendsetter, a company must be able to tap into the value that lies within the sprawling flood of data it generates. The enabling technology needs to be frictionless, essentially acting as a service that simply delivers constant and consistent business insights.
Real-time insight has improved Coca-Cola Bottling Company Consolidated’s demand forecasting. With a 20-fold improvement in actionable supply chain insights, the company can now predict how much of which products are needed on any given day and in any particular store or vending machine. This allows the company to create efficiencies by getting the right products to the right places at the right time.
The new imperative for organizations is not simply system procurement, management, or functionality. It is time to insight. The efficient movement, storage, and retrieval of data that can be analyzed and quickly turned into insight is becoming the paramount concern for organizations.
Now more than ever, traditional and simple transaction systems like email need to run more efficiently, and newer workloads like mobile applications need to scale at a massive rate. The dual demands of simplification and scale have many businesses at a crossroad.
Single-shot solutions only solve today’s hot-button issue. They do not future-proof businesses. An insights-as-a-service model requires a solutions approach that takes aim at business problems. The ability to connect traditional systems of record and new workloads is critical to helping businesses simplify and scale. Companies that can do this effectively will see improvements in the performance of their mission-critical applications along with the ability to increase collaboration across geographies and improve the economies of the data.
For example, Royal Caribbean uses the insights collected from their passenger data to better enhance the cruising experience from the moment customers step aboard. These real-time insights allow the cruise line to provide targeted offerings that boost passenger satisfaction and strengthen brand loyalty.
Insights in the Cloud
Many organizations are looking at the cloud as a way to deliver insight services more quickly and efficiently. The cloud can help IT departments and businesses create and deliver value in new ways. But a shift to the cloud becomes impossible if the data isn’t fluid. Insights-as-a-service allows businesses to access stored data on demand from anywhere in real time. As the size of data continues to grow, the requisite cost of moving data around often becomes prohibitive. Businesses must employ distributed intelligence to bring computation to the data. This means storing the data on the right platform in the right place at the right time.
The City of Hope National Medical Center leverages scalable, cloud-ready technologies to support its ongoing data growth challenges, allowing for rapid access to critical systems and information. Through real-time insights-as-a-service, it is able to provide medical and operational teams with faster and more accurate service to patients, resulting in targeted treatment regimens that improve patient outcomes and a higher quality of care overall.
The rise of insights signals a departure from a decade-long fascination with data proliferation. Huge opportunities are created for organizations that embrace the idea that insight, and not data alone, is what drives business value. It represents a new era in business in which the manner and speed of interactions with customers, employees, partners, and markets separate the exceptional from the ordinary.
Based in Raleigh, NC, Jamie Thomas is General Manager, Storage and Software Defined Systems, at IBM.
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