Technological change is happening at a rapid pace, no more so than in information technology. In the past decade, the deluge of big data has wrought a vast transformation of the IT landscape. Predictive analytics has become common-place. New technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) promise to change the way we approach analytics and decision-making. Additionally, the pressure the gain efficiencies, connect more intimately with suppliers and customers, and increase top and bottom line revenue to maximize shareholder value has made it imperative to respond more quickly to market changes.

So how will companies deal with these pressures? The ones who thrive—not just survive—in the future will have three characteristics: intelligence, connectedness, and agility.

They will be intelligent

Over the past 25 years, business intelligence and analytics technologies have revolutionized business decision-making. However, it’s not enough anymore to simply buy BI or analytics tools, load your data, slice and dice it, and interpret the results. Big data has made traditional tools almost obsolete—especially for large, complex, or multi-national companies. In five years, the analytics technologies in play will have undergone a profound change, and that change is already underway.

Artificial intelligence is the future of analytics. Retailers are already adopting AI technologies for deep learning to manage customer interactions and increase customer satisfaction. In fact, Garner predicts that by 2020, 85% of all customer interactions will be managed by AI technologies.

AI-augmented analytics can be applied to nearly every industry and sector. For example, financial institutions can use it for fraud detection, portfolio optimization, and customer service. Agricultural concerns can use AI to improve research on farming methods, manage crop yields, minimize the use of pesticides, and manage livestock. In healthcare, AI can help doctors diagnose diseases faster and more accurately, help researchers find cures for those diseases, and it can help health systems manage costs and patient populations more effectively while providing optimized care.

They will be connected

The supply chain is dying. It’s being replaced by perpetually-connected, digital supply networks (DSN). A DSN is an ecosystem where information flows to and from who and where it’s needed, when it’s needed, to maximize efficiency throughout the network. Information latency is no longer an issue, because on-demand, near real-time information flow creates almost instantaneous insights that are accessible to all interested and authorized parties.

On a macro level, increased information flow speed provides the insights needed to develop more effective business strategies, which leads to more business opportunities and helps create new strategic advantages.

The benefits of these freed-up, on-demand information flows are enormous. More timely information can help reduce costs by improving efficiency. The back-and-forth data flows can also help companies gain the information they need to make product improvements more quickly, which results in more satisfied customers. More satisfied customers lead to a better reputation, and with that reputation and better information in the hands of management and salespeople, sales effectiveness—and revenues—can soar.

They will be agile

To be sure, AI and DSNs can enable companies to become more agile by gaining the ability to better understand and interpret their environment and become more responsive to market needs. However, the foundation of this agility is the technical infrastructure that supports all these dynamic technologies. If that infrastructure is not cutting-edge, it can’t support innovative technologies. That cutting-edge infrastructure is the cloud.

But not just any cloud. There are many cloud options: public, private, hybrid, and on-premise. However, in the near future, companies that thrive will gain the ultimate flexibility by combining their analytics and cloud technologies into an intelligent cloud, so that their analytics aren’t simply supported by the cloud—they’re integrated with it.

Intelligent clouds contain analytics capabilities and cloud storage, bundled as a managed-services package—on a subscription basis—that can be scaled up or down quickly, at will, depending on your needs. They allow you to deploy the latest, and most sophisticated analytics capabilities, combined with flexible, secure, cloud storage that fits your workload size and operational requirements.

With an intelligent cloud, you get three things:

  1. Your resources are there when you need them.
  2. Peace of mind. Security and management are taken care of for you.
  3. Scale up or down as needed to meet demand quickly.

I titled this blog, “The Company of the Future,” but in reality, that future is now. All these technologies are available today, and forward-thinking companies are implementing them. I believe that in five years, companies that haven’t implemented these technologies—at least to some degree—will be short-changing their future and may end up with a bleak one.

General manager of Teradata Consulting and Go-To-Market Analytic Solutions. Thought leader in analytics, business intelligence, big data, and business transformation. My passion is helping my clients drive value through data and achieve a sustainable competitive advantage.

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