You’d be forgiven for thinking that the data hype is over. In 2011, McKinsey & Company published a report called Big data: The next frontier for innovation, competition and productivity which forewarned of Big data taking over the world.
Six years later and does it feel like data has taken over the world? Well, I think it depends on where in the world you are.
Those companies and organisations that were early adopters probably think so. Everywhere you look, data is being exploited by smart startups to disrupt traditional businesses. Except that I’m not sure many people outside of the early adopters think that it’s the exploitation of data that’s doing the disruption.
And this leads to big issues. When CEOs and leaders think that Netflix, Uber, Airbnb are just Apps and not data, it’s easy for those people to think that they need an app to compete. They’re wrong.
Most organisations are sitting on mountains of data (or have the ability to get it) that they’re simply not exploiting because they don’t realise that this is what the sharks are feeding on. They will be eaten up in short time if they don’t start collecting/using it soon.
I was recently at a conference where over one hundred of the finest minds in data, in business and organisations, gathered together to discuss and share their experiences within their own organisations.
The people at the conference were at various stages in their organisation adopting a data-centric business model. The huge theme that came out of it as a blocker to anyone talking about why things weren’t happening or why things did happen was senior stakeholder support.
Unless support for data-centricity (not just data projects) comes from the very top, organisations will struggle to do anything but pay lip service. They are ripe for being gobbled up by younger ‘apps’ who get it. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon.
The big danger here isn’t individual businesses and organisations failing. Plenty of companies have failed to grasp the significance of emerging technologies in the past (Blockbuster, Kodak being the famous ones) and the world hasn’t collapsed.
What’s different here is that when multiple organisations fail in the new world, there’s usually just one or two huge winners who snap up the consumers due to the relative ease and speed they can spread without traditional advertising, building and staff.
This is bad for business, competition and ultimately the consumer, no matter how friendly and do-no-evil the newcomers seem.
The impression that I got from the conference is that everyone, even in large organisations who ‘get it’, are struggling. Linkedin failed to realise the significance of its own data until someone fought for a small ‘people you may know’ section on the homepage that made return visits go through the roof. And Linkedin is an example where they already have the hard work of the data done.
Linkedin failed to realise the significance of its own data until someone fought for a small ‘people you may know’ section on the homepage that made return visits go through the roof. And Linkedin is an example where they already have the hard work of the data done.
And Linkedin is an example where they already have the hard work of the data done. The governance, the skills, the technology were all in place, they just hadn’t productised it. A vast number of incumbents haven’t sorted out the hard bits because they don’t even believe that they need to.
So it was five years since McKinsey wrote that report. Perhaps it was a little early but actually, I don’t think so. We can already see the impact around us if we think of disruptors as being data centric rather than just apps, and incumbents as not.
Just as Kodak thought that the digital camera was about technology rather than photographs.
Kodak is back! (well worth watching the clip below)