Once stored, ignored, and relegated to servers and spreadsheets, data is having its rockstar moment in 2019. While data has always been important, and recently abundant—it has not been easy to manage or to actually apply in solving business problems and challenges.
But now that every organization is on a transformation journey to remain relevant and meet the challenges of the future, data has become a competitive weapon. In every industry, companies are striving to leverage data to optimize processes, create new solutions, and make faster, more accurate decisions. Consider the recent data analytics acquisitions by two A-list enterprises, Google and Salesforce.
Google announced that Looker, a business intelligence (BI) and big data analytics platform, soon will join Google Cloud. Google has been an investor in Looker and reportedly has acquired the company for $2.6 billion in cash. Looker’s platform is designed to help business users explore, analyze and share real-time business analytics more easily. Looker’s announcement underscores the significance of converging exponential technologies—in this case, cloud computing and data analytics—and the critical difference between incremental and exponential growth:
“In tech, most progress is incremental. But occasionally an existing market is up-ended and an entirely new approach causes a complete transformation of how humans can solve a problem. Looker and Google Cloud are at the heart of such a sea change in data analytics.”—Frank Bien, CEO at Looker
Salesforce, a leading customer relationship management (CRM) platform provider, recently announced plans to purchase Tableau Software in a deal reported to be valued at $15.7 billion. Using data visualization, Tableau helps businesses view, share, and analyze data to enable non-technical users to make data-informed decisions. The Salesforce announcement also emphasizes the importance of analytics for future reinvention, and creating a unified view of data for the entire organization:
“Data is the foundation of every digital transformation, and the addition of Tableau will accelerate our ability to deliver customer success by enabling a truly unified and powerful view across all of a customer’s data.”—Keith Block, co-CEO, Salesforce
Power to the (Non-Technical) People
The sheer volume of data that today’s enterprise companies amass each day creates vast potential opportunities—and huge challenges for those companies trying to make sense of this tidal wave of data and apply it to their business challenges. Looker and Tableau both strive to use data visualization and user-friendly analysis tools to unlock the power of data and provide a unified view for every individual within an organization.
This so-called democratization of data typically is welcomed by large organizations, but concerns remain about errors caused by the use of data tools by untrained users who might misinterpret data. But in many ways, the genie is out of the bottle. The same broad democratization trends that are making data more usable, accessible, and affordable also apply to computer hardware, software, storage, and processing power—in fact, anything else that becomes digitized.
“The Six Ds are a chain reaction of technological progression, a road map of rapid development that always leads to enormous upheaval and opportunity.” –Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler, Bold
Once a product or service is digitized, it becomes more available and affordable, and so more people gain access. Thus, powerful technologies and data resources are no longer the provinces of governments and wealthy corporations, according to the 6 Ds of exponential tech framework by Peter H. Diamandis, Executive Founder and Director of Singularity University.
A Convergence of Strategies
We’ve written before on this blog about the power of combining exponential technologies with data for powerful growth. For example, big data is critical to the success of machine-learning projects because larger data sets enable faster learning and more accurate results. For future-ready organizations, that means keeping a close watch on exponential technology trends, competitors, and the need to rethink your strategy development processes.
Today, your organization’s future growth strategy cannot be separated from its data strategy. A holistic view of data goes beyond analytics to include responsible data collection, privacy, storage, hygiene—in short, managing your organization’s entire life data lifecycle.
Developing your strategy for future growth is no simple matter, but recent actions from data-driven leaders like Google and Salesforce provide some helpful insights. Both organizations are adding data analytics to complement their core capabilities, reach new customers, and add value to existing customer relationships. Enterprise organizations in every industry are each on their own transformation journeys. The ones that reimagine the future with customers and data at the core of their business will be well-positioned to reach the future first.