In the 2000 film The Perfect Storm, George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg star in the fact-based tale of a small struggling sword fishing boat, the Andrea Gail, that sails far out from its Massachusetts port to the Flemish Cap. There the boat runs into a confluence of two powerful weather fronts and a hurricane, is overwhelmed, and the captain and his crew are all drowned. The film resonates because it shows what can happen if – driven by financial need or simply through bad luck or bad judgement - you fail to respect the world’s great natural forces.
In the business world, the stakes are rarely life-and-death, but right now there is a similar ‘perfect storm’ of powerful new technology forces brewing that threaten to overwhelm organisations who do not see them coming, do not appreciate their power or do not prepare for their impact.
Unlike the film, however, these technologies also present a major opportunity for those organisations who understand how to harness their power and can successfully ‘ride the storm’.
The four emerging tech trends are individually strong, but the ways in which they are combining make them even more powerful.
Analyst firm Gartner coined the phrase ‘Nexus of Forces’ to describe this phenomenon, stating: “Research over the past several years has identified the independent evolution of four powerful forces - social, mobile, cloud and information. As a result of consumerisation and the ubiquity of connected smart devices, people’s behaviour has caused a convergence of these forces.
Understanding the opportunity
So why do these forces present such a major business threat and opportunity? Ultimately, it’s because they help organisations achieve their main aim: being first to market with new products and services.
How does this work?
There are three stages:
1) To gain competitive edge, organisations first need to gather as much customer and corporate information as possible.
That means extending beyond their traditional sets of data to collect the new intelligence from their social media sources (Force 1) and their growing range of external cloud-based software (Force 2).
All this information combined is creating the phenomenon known as ‘big data’ (Force 4).
2) Once it’s gathered, companies need to share this information as widely as possible – again not just to their traditional servers and desktops, but also to their fast-growing stock of tablets and smartphones (Force 3).
3) Of course all this shared information is useless unless you understand it. That’s where BI and analytics comes in. BI software enables companies to rapidly understand their growing volumes of data – and use that insight to improve their products and services and launch new offers ahead of the competition.
BI: what’s the plan?
So how can your organisation maximise its use of BI and analytics, to give you the best chance of not simply surviving the gathering storm, but sailing through it – riding the crest of the new technology wave, if you like?