IBM IOD 2011: Firms must move from data insight to action

IBM IOD logo

Businesses must turn information insight into action, not just to gain competitive advantage but to survive in the long term.

So claimed IBM during the opening session of its Information on Demand (IOD) conference in Las Vegas.

Jeff Jonas, IBM Entity Analytics' chief scientist and distinguished IBM engineer, said many organisations are facing enterprise amnesia' where they have two pieces of duplicated data.

"Computers are getting faster. Organisations are actually getting dumber," he said, adding many may be able to make sense of seven per cent of organisational data today, but that level will quickly fall to four per cent and then continue the downward spiral.

It's a bit like a puzzle, according to Jonas. He actually tested his theory out with his girlfriend's son and some friends by mixing up a couple of big puzzles, adding some extra bits and removing other parts. He was amazed at how quickly his guinea pigs were able to work out what one of the puzzles should be, even though they didn't have a complete picture of all the parts involved.

Analytic value = managed data + talented people X embedded analytics.

Relating that analogy to a new piece of enterprise data, he said: "You could leave it by itself. Or, it looks like the red and white ones so you put it by red and white pieces. Or it actually connects to something. But it only connects if you're sure. I call this the false negative.

"It turns out that bad data is good. You want the spelling mistakes, the transpositions. When you do a Google search if it didn't remember the errors, it wouldn't be so smart."

Executives from SunTrust took to the stage to explain how they are turning data insight into business action to drive the business forward.

"In five years, SunTrust made a quantum leap in our risk analytics," said HP Bunaes, the company's senior vice president and director of risk technology.

"What took us days to do now takes seconds. I can now sit at my desk creating a report using Cognos. Before I had to find somebody to find data and create a report for me."

Paul Edmisten, senior vice president at SunTrust, added: "Analytic value = managed data + talented people X embedded analytics."

"Data for business is like gas for a car. Without it, it won't run. The better the data, the better the quality, the better the engine runs. It's no different," he said.

"We believe [it's a case of having] not only the people who have the skills, but also a deep understanding of the data and the business. It's very important to take that data, take the talented people and put those two together. The next step is figuring out how to take insights and embed them into processes."

The nature of every industry has changed and intelligence can help add value to every decision made, according to Mike Rhodin, senior vice president of IBM's software solutions group.

"Analytics is no longer a tool It's a necessary capability, which can make the processes that run your business smarter. This creates real competitive advantage," he said.

"The time to act is now. Don't just think about the possibilities, act on them."

Maggie Holland

Maggie has been a journalist since 1999, starting her career as an editorial assistant on then-weekly magazine Computing, before working her way up to senior reporter level. In 2006, just weeks before ITPro was launched, Maggie joined Dennis Publishing as a reporter. Having worked her way up to editor of ITPro, she was appointed group editor of CloudPro and ITPro in April 2012. She became the editorial director and took responsibility for ChannelPro, in 2016.

Her areas of particular interest, aside from cloud, include management and C-level issues, the business value of technology, green and environmental issues and careers to name but a few.