Forget data, it’s all about “real-time insights”

Paul Appleby, executive vice president of worldwide sales and marketing at BMC, gives his view of data in business.

In this age of digital business and digital transformation, the Holy Grail for organisations is centred around the idea of ‘big data’ and leveraging it to drive decision making.

The regularly-repeated rhetoric that ‘every company is a data company’ has become a bit of a null statement these days as, if an organisation isn’t working to exploit data collection, it’s already falling behind the competition.

However, Paul Appleby – executive vice president of worldwide sales and marketing at BMC – argues that the data itself shouldn’t be the focus. Instead, businesses should be concentrating on providing “real-time insights.”

He went as far as to describe big data within digital business as a “misnomer,” saying: “When you talk to people, what do they really mean by big data? Because everything’s big data now. Every photo, every video that you take, every post on Snapchat, any piece of data a retailer captures about you. So I’m not a fan of talking about big data, I prefer talking about real time insights because that ultimately, when you look at these vast oceans of data, should be what we are talking about. How do you combine structured and unstructured data like business data and IT data to provide real time insights?

“You’ve got to look at big data from a real time analytics perspective, so that you’re giving real time insights and leveraging the power of big data that helps, not only companies, but individuals make real time decisions.”

The key, he said, is being able to turn data into a “competitive weapon,” but there are still many organisations out there not thinking about data in the right way: “The dialogue now is about the data rich and the data poor and how data becomes the ultimate competitive weapon. So the issue is not so much capturing huge oceans of data and having a myriad of data scientists, it's actually how are we going to leverage data to either protect, preserve and grow our existing business, or create totally new businesses or new ways of engaging with our customers. And companies aren’t thinking about it enough like that; they’re treating it like a science project.”

Linked to this is the evolution of Artificial Intelligence (AI), an area which Appleby sees as being key to the future of not just business, but global society: “It’s just going to drive massive shifts in how communities operate, how society operates, how business function, even how the economy functions. There are other cool technologies, but if you’re talking about seismic shifts in patterns of behaviour in economies, then it’s AI.”

And the biggest changes are still yet to come: “When people talk about this being an industrial revolution, it really is. We’re going to see a seismic shift in how people work and in the work that people do.

“Change is being driven along multiple vectors,” Appleby concluded, and data-driven insights –unsurprisingly - are central to them all.

Image source: Shutterstock/Carlos Amarillo