IBM IOD 2012: Businesses should drill down into data to fuel innovation and success

IBM IOD 2012 logo

Businesses are sitting on top of precious natural resources they could be deriving great value from, simply by harnessing the power of Big Data.

So claims IBM, which suggested data was the 21st Century's oil during its Information Demand (IOD) conference in Las Vegas.

"Data has become the new natural resource, the new natural oil," said Les Rechan IBM's general manager of its business analytics arm. "Our job is to drill down [to turn it into fuel] that is data-rich and insight-pervasive."

To make the most of this new business fuel, we need to rethink the way we do business to be truly transformational, according to Steve Mills, senior vice president of IBM's software and systems group.

"There are lots of breakthroughs available to us. Much of it is about what we already have and using what we already know," he said. "It's not having to come up with new ways. It's really up to us. The tools and capabilities already exist."

Mills also took the opportunity to stress how the company believes its adoption of open standards is key to helping businesses unlock this potential, adding firms are now both implementing technology such as its smarter computing solutions in a matter of months and achieving ROI in a similar timeframe.

To put weight behind the ROI/time claim, Mills cited an example of a key government medical and social benefits agency that needs to analyse data from more than 70 disparate sources. Such analysis now takes days rather than weeks and over payments of around $140 million were identified as a result.

Fred Balboni, global leader of IBM global business services' business analytics and optimisation arm, echoed Mills' advice to rethink rather repurpose. "There's an old adage that goes like this: It's not what you know, but who you know. In the world of Big Data, it's no longer what you know but what you are going to do with what you know and, quite frankly, how fast you are going to do it," he chimed before adding that the value isn't necessarily in the data itself but the value you can derive from it.

Mills concluded with a rallying call to the 12,000-plus IOD delegates. "We are not constrained by technology or affordability. We just need to understand the art of the possible," he said.

"We have moved into an extraordinary new era of computing. Let's team up, got at it and make everybody a Big Data person."

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.