There is a chill stirring in the corridors of corporate power. It’s the data driven company paradigm that is subverting the very foundations of corporate hierarchies and established divisions of labour. Well-established positions within the corporate power structure risk being undermined by new alliances, new business processes and shifting revenue streams.
Historically, we see that It’s not always the strongest business that survive in times of fast paced technology change – it’s the companies that are best able to incorporate change to their business advantage. Today very small companies can challenge even the market leaders using pay-as-you-go IT resources and disruptive business propositions. It’s cold at the top as a Standards & Poor analysis demonstrated. They found that the average lifespan of their top-500 US companies has dropped to 15 years.
Successful data driven companies are forging new alliances across their production, marketing, sales and IT teams to bolster customer satisfaction levels and address changed buying behaviour. At the recent TIBCO European summit in Berlin, many of the talks focused on these levers of change.
It’s an API World
Very few companies – and certainly not companies with many years of existence, have IT systems and applications that interoperate effortlessly – the drag of legacy is inevitable. Enter the application program interface (API), the idea that by describing a program interface you can actually exchange data and processing power with other applications. Actually of course, there are thousands of API definitions and just finding them and keeping them updated is a serious task. Enter TIBCO Mashery, a UK based software provider of API services. This company develops and maintains a very large library of APIs and provides them as-a-service to customers. So the company has become indispensable – not only for customers with large and heterogeneous applications, but also for companies needing to interface with customers’ and partners’ applications.
Small business case study:
The London Theatre Direct (LTD) company (www.londontheatredirect.com) is a ticket aggregator selling tickets on-line to London West-End performances. The company has three people in London and 30 back office developers in Prague. It is completely AWS cloud based and relies on Mashery to keep its APIs running. Building up this business required interfacing with a host of different ticket systems and then creating a unified, easy-to-use selection and booking platform. The early contributors to the LTD platform soon experienced faster ticket sales on the LTP platform than on their own, so three years into the process, the tide turned and theatres now come to LTD. The company also white labels its platform to other ticket outlets, and has expanded its own operations abroad.
If you are going to integrate your lines-of-business and fish in your data lake, you need to ensure that the IT gear they need are easy-to-use for everyone. Users outside the IT community have very little patience with slow or complicated systems, let alone systems that require you to read a manual! Horizontal business tools require connectivity, the ability to find and sort the relevant data. Then follows the analytics phase and finally identifying what actions to undertake.
Large business case study:
The Mercedes Formula 1 team. The F1 industry epitomises the constant challenges to improve efficiencies, sturdiness and adaptability when servers and all peripherals are transported around the world 21 times a year. Too much data sprawl is just more noise – there is a strong need to economise.
On the track:
During a race managers must make data driven decisions based on 3,5TB of car performance data downloaded over a few seconds, when the car comes into the pit to change tires and refuel. Decisions must be made and implemented during the 60 seconds it takes before roaring back into the race. Analysing the data at rest is done with TIBCO Spotfire and streaming communications relies on Streambase. Mercedes is constantly looking at tools for automation and machine learning – tools that are more insightful and helpful.
On the social media:
Mercedes has 11 million followers on Facebook. Hitherto they have all been getting the same feeds. TIBCO data scientists are now enrolled into the Mercedes strategy planning to tailor information to the preferences of its followers. The aim is to climb higher on their wall using tools such as software regression analysis. Messages and icons on users’ walls can also be seen by others.
The data driven challenge
Data driven organisations need to bring together the two symbiotic elements of interconnection and augmentation. The guiding principles are: cloud first, ease of use, and industrialisation. The software underpinning this drive must be pleasant and appealing to a wider group of users in the enterprise. Developers need to address the whole range of ‘personas’ who need to interact with the data. Ease of use and robust solution packages must be industry specific and maintained continuously.