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The sheer volume of data has exploded in recent years, and the companies utilizing this data the most effectively are poised to become the leaders in their space.
Back in 2010, Google’s CEO at the time Eric Schmidt famously put the rate of data creation into context that anyone could understand. From the dawn of civilization up until 2003, approximately five exabytes of data were created. In 2010, people were creating that much data every two days.
At the time, that was a jaw-dropping, mind-blowing statistic. But since then, the rate of data creation has only continued to grow—and it’s growing exponentially. In 2013, worldwide smartphone shipments outpaced conventional feature phones for the first time. We’ve seen the rise of wearables, like the Fitbit and the Apple Watch. And it’s not just consumer electronics and devices contributing to data creation--we’re also seeing businesses deploy new sensor technologies, adding yet another category to the mix.
Remember those two exabytes that seemed astronomical back in 2010? We’re now talking about the creation of new data in terms of zettabytes, which are the equivalent of 1,000 exabytes. Recent studies suggest that by 2020, the digital universe as we know it will reach 44 zettabytes.
The explosion of data has not gone unnoticed. However, many businesses may not be fully realizing the potential this data brings to the table.
Simply put, data is the most important resource in today’s digital business landscape. Even when compared to other assets like land, intellectual property or machinery, there is no resource that even comes close. The most successful companies right now—and the most successful enterprises that will come in the near future—are the ones that can best collect, manage and use their data.
Take a look at Amazon, for example. If you ask people why Amazon has reigned king of the ecommerce space for so long, you’d likely get a variety of answers. Some people may point to CEO Jeff Bezos and his management team. Others may cite Amazon’s customer service—the site has repeatedly been recognized for stellar customer satisfaction and typically leads all other online sellers in this area. Others yet may point to the unmatched operational execution that enables the company to operate successfully at a global scale on razor thin margins.
While all of those are contributing factors, the key advantage is the sheer amount of customer data Amazon has access to—and the company’s ability to act on this data in an instant. Amazon knows what customers across the globe want better than anyone else, which enables the company to react first to new demands while also delivering unparalleled service.
Any retailer that wants to compete head-to-head with Amazon for that leadership position will need to have at least as much data and better data mining processes. And mining data is not easy.
Of course, Amazon isn’t the only company wielding its data like this. Look at any of the modern industry goliaths, and they all have one thing in common: they have access to huge pools of customer data and can use this data to inform their every action. For every other business, the gauntlet has been thrown—use your data to be more intelligent or face extinction.
Many businesses understand the importance of data and analytics, and they’re actively moving to leverage them in new and exciting ways by incorporating analytics into their various business applications. However, that’s just the starting point. It’s not enough to just have analytics in today’s digital economy. They need to be ingrained into the foundation—the DNA—of every application to make them even more intelligent.
Applications need to be built on a platform that supports predictive results using machine learning from the outset. This enables applications to learn from data and results, continuously using this information to create increasingly better predictions and empowering human decisions. This is how businesses can truly gain an edge and challenge for the leadership position in their respective industries.
Mark Troester is the Vice President of Strategy at Progress. He guides the strategic go-to-market efforts for the Progress cognitive-first strategy. Mark has extensive experience in bringing application development and big data products to market. Previously, he led product marketing efforts at Sonatype, SAS and Progress DataDirect. Before these positions, Mark worked as a developer and developer manager for start-ups and enterprises alike. You can find him on LinkedIn or @mtroester on Twitter.
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