Welcome to the insight economy: Disrupt or be disrupted

Man looking at holographic data with a magnifying glass

Information and knowledge are no longer viable business currencies. They have been usurped by the need to gain greater insight from a range of data sources and that's how true business value will be derived in the future.

So claims IBM, which used its Insight conference in Las Vegas this week to talk up the power of being able to connect the dots between users and behaviour to enhance customer and company relationships.

"Insight is the new way to create business value," assembled delegates were told by a video opening the keynote session. "Insight is the new competitive advantage. Are you a player in this new economy? Or are you about to be disrupted?"

That video set the tone for the rest of the keynote, which also talked up the advancements that have been achieved in hybrid cloud and hybrid cloud infrastructure as helping businesses to unlock the value of data regardless of where that data resides.

"All of you are here today because you have helped ignite this data revolution. You know that competitive advantage depends on data rather than biases, instincts and past experiences. Many of you are leading with analytics and data to disrupt your business models and your industries. So during this week, we have a lot to learn from each other and I'm very much looking forward to it," said Bob Picciano, senior vice president of IBM Analytics.

"It's all about unlocking value, unlocking the game-changing insights that are waiting to be unleashed from all this diverse data around us. This includes dark data data we haven't been able to eliminate in previous generations of analytics capability. It also includes data generated by devices on the IoT."

The opening keynote session talked about how Apple shook up the music industry with iTunes and likened the current shift to that and the changes the photographic and publishing industries underwent when digital film and e-books respectively arrived on the scene.

What's more, attendees were told that all economic revolutions are primarily driven by science and technology, leading to massive disruption and leaving behind winners and losers, disruptors and disruptees.

Picciano also said we had entered a new era of business that focused on cognitive analytics that would help enterprises "outthink challenges and outthink the competition."

"As every business rushes to become a digital business, cognitive will be the critical differentiator. What is truly extraordinary is that these cognitive systems are not programmed to anticipate every possible answer or action needed to perform a certain function or set of tasks. Like us, they learn. They learn from experts, they learn from every interaction," he said.

"Cognitive businesses learn by continually ingesting data. Using AI and machine learning, cognitive systems are trained to sense, to predict, to infer. To ultimately augment human intelligence. Helping us to think better and enabling us to make more informed and unbiased decisions.

"To lead in the insight economy, every client needs to harness as much data as possible from diverse sources. To put it to work to help you answer the toughest questions that you have."

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.