Currently, when you look at any company’s web page, you’re looking at a 2D website. It’s a flat piece of paper that may have a hyperlink, an embedded photograph, or a video. Regardless, it’s still 2D.
Daniel Burrus' Strategic Insights Blog
We’re starting to see that any company’s competitive advantage is increasingly determined by the quality of the data they have and how they’re using that data to make real-time decisions. This applies to not only humans making the decisions, but also to how they’re allowing the machines they have in their enterprise to make decisions. In other words, they’re deciding what decisions they want the machines to make versus what decisions they want humans to make, and they’re increasingly making those decisions based on actionable, high-quality, real-time big data.
Interestingly, what we call big data today is going to look puny two to three years from now, because the amount of data being created is growing exponentially. For example, governments, organizations, corporations, educational institutions, and the military are in the process of installing connected sensors to just about everything, from the concrete in streets, bridges, highways, and buildings, to cars, boats, and everyday products, just to name a few. In addition, we are connecting machines to machines on a massive, global scale, allowing them to carry out functions and make repairs all without human intervention. All of this is creating what could be called the Internet of Things. And, all of this means much, much more data!
Going forward, the type, quality, and relevance of the data will become far more important than the quantity of data, so being very good at managing these will create new ways to differentiate as well as find innovative approaches to creating and maintaining competitive advantage.
So with all of this data coming in, it’s clear that competitive advantage is going to be created by your use of data and by your ability to make sure you’re getting good data. After all, bad data yields bad decisions. You want to be able to draw the right conclusions from your data, as that’s what provides new opportunities, better solutions to problems, and new competitive advantage.
At this point you need to ask yourself a few questions, namely:
- What kind of data do I need to get that will give me insights into the causes of problems and new opportunities?
- What sensors could we install right now, wireless or wired, that would give us more real-time information so that we could, as humans, translate that data into actionable knowledge and wisdom in order to gain competitive advantage?
- What machines might I want to connect, wirelessly or wired, so they can talk to each other and operate at a more intelligent level?
- What decisions do I want my machines to make instantaneously in order for everything to run more efficiently and effectively—so the machines can solve problems before they happen and even before a human would notice it?
If you want to solve seemingly impossible problems and find new competitive advantage, you have to look at the type and quality of the data you’re generating and how you’re using it. When your data can empower your people and your machines to make better decisions faster, you’ll have increased competitive advantage.
Big data in and of itself doesn’t do a company much good. The key is to couple that data with high-speed data analytics in order to be able to make real-time decisions. Additionally, you need to leverage your internal big data by looking at real-time chatter on social media and on websites. This gives you a better idea of what’s happening with online product reviews, and it helps you move forward.
Let’s take one of the largest retailers—Walmart. Start by visualizing one five-drawer filing cabinet. Now, think of a room filled with 60 million five-drawer file cabinets. That’s how much data comes from all of the Walmart stores every hour. And as retailers install more sensors to add advanced predictive analytics to real-time sales and customer behavior, that figure of 60 million filing cabinets worth of data every hour is going to increase. For example, retailers are beginning to use mannequins with cameras in their eyes so they can see who’s looking at them and whether they’re male or female, pregnant or not, thin or heavy, etc. And that’s just one little data point.
Their initial proposal is for $100 million of the president’s 2014 budget. But they will be spending much more than that, because it is very similar to the human genome project that was started in 1990 and completed in 2003. In the human genome project, the total cost over that long period of time was $3.8 billion. While that’s a lot of money, the federal impact study shows that the return on that $3.8 billion, economically, was $800 billion as of 2010, and it’s still producing returns.
It’s important to have big dreams for your future. After all, failing to plan is planning to fail. So if you can’t think big about your future, you’re not going to have a very big future. Big, of course, means a dream that takes you farther than where you are today.
When we give people advice or answer their questions, we often have to sell them on the answer. Think about it in your own family. When a child asks you a question, you, as the adult, give them the answer. But you’ve likely heard the old saying, “In one ear and out the other,” so you have to sell them on the idea that what you’re giving them is good advice and they should follow it.
The same is true for business. When you give people answers to their questions, you don’t necessarily know how they’re receiving it. Even if you think you can read their body language and facial expression, there are still doubts. Have they really embraced it? Have they accepted it? Do they like that answer? Will they act on it?
In every organization worldwide, there is an unspoken war between the young and the old. The younger workers look at the older ones and think, “They just don’t get it!” And the older workers look at the younger ones and think, “They just don’t get it!” Interestingly, they’re both right.
In reality, the young and the old are the perfect complementary match. When what each group brings to the table is combined, they can create positive results, competitive advantage, and a profitable future.
Are you becoming increasingly irrelevant in the eyes of your employer or the marketplace because your education and training has not been keeping up with the dramatic changes that are taking place in your industry? To have job security and increase your earning power both now and in the future, you need to boost your relevance by learning new things. The challenge is knowing what to learn, what courses to take, and what degrees will position you to thrive in the years ahead.
The problem is, we live in an uncertain world, and because of the high levels of uncertainty we all face, people of all ages and career levels are finding it difficult to know what new skills to learn, what courses to take, and what degrees to get that will provide them with the most opportunity going forward. Uncertainty keeps us stuck in the present.