When data becomes the business

kevinspaceyThe speaker roaster for IBM Insight 2014 looks impressive, and very “big data” oriented: Terry Jones – founder of Travelocity.com & Kayak.com and ex-CIO of Sabre, Netflix’ big data production House of Cards’s Frank Underwood – I mean, Kevin Spacey – and these are only the keynote speakers. Too bad I am not in Vegas this week… IBM always puts together a very good quality event.

I am however able to grab some sound bites from the event, thanks to the best friend of wannabe conference attendees in the 2010 decade: Twitter. With so many people I follow in attendance, it’s a bit hard to filter the signal from the noise, but I found some interesting thoughts to chew on.

The tweet that triggered the idea for this post came from Gartner’s Ted Friedman:


I am not sure whether Ted tweeted a quote from a keynote speaker, or came to that realization during a session – I guess it does not really matter. But the concept is really interesting. It’s not how the business uses or produces (more) data, but how the data and the business merge to become one and the same.

In its initial stages of digitalization, the business becomes a producer of data and/or consumes this data and data produced by others, to become more efficient or invent new processes. In more advanced forms, the business pivots and becomes data-driven.

The concept of data becoming the business and the business becoming data implies an ultimate stage of digitalization, one toward which digitalized businesses are tending. I am convinced that this ultimate stage is not just an idealistic yet impractical stage: for companies that were born digital, this is the essence of their business model. These companies never had to pivot, neither had they to aspire to a digitalized state – by design or by accident, they were born in that state.

The question is: is this ultimate stage of digitalization reachable by businesses that were not born digital, but are just becoming digitalized?

Digitally yours,

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