In a recent presentation, Forrester describes the uniqueness of our current business environment as a perfect storm of technology innovation. In the past, technology cycles were driven by one major innovation (mainframe computing, personal computing, networked computing). The current environment sees a perfect storm of cloud computing, social business, mobile computing, advanced analytics and smart computing. This latest cycle begins a period of accelerated innovation, and introduces a larger potential for disruption than in past cycles.

Disruption in many different forms is not just possible, but likely. Business models across many industries are already under attack. The Information Technology (IT) function itself will see considerable change over the next several years. As the workforce and business leaders play a bigger role in technology selection, the role of IT will evolve. What IT looks like in the future is anyone’s guess, but change is almost certain. The current outsourcing model that so many companies have embraced over the years, will change as cloud computing widens its footprint. The way companies build and deploy applications will change, as mobile apps and app stores shift from the consumer world to the enterprise. The way companies interact and communicate with all stakeholders will change, as social media evolves to social business.

Perhaps the biggest disruptive force however could be “Big Data”. In the closing section of a recent Report from the Altimeter Group, they take a look at the future of social media and conclude that data is king. I couldn’t agree more. The accelerating growth of unstructured data (video, audio, text) will create an inextricable link between the effective analysis of “Big Data” and competitive advantage. Those companies that can optimize actions in real time based on signals sensed in the market place; will have a considerable advantage over those that don’t. With all of these disruptive forces impacting the enterprise at once, it could come down to analytic excellence. Social, cloud and mobile will surely disrupt, but the common denominator is data – and a lot of it.

All of this disruption puts pressure on the enterprise. The natural tendency is to respond to this pressure with initiatives. But too often, these initiatives are pursued in isolation. Companies invest in mobile initiatives with no regard for existing social efforts. Social initiatives are undertaken with no regard for existing digital assets (website, intranet, partner portals, etc.) – and all of this is happening with very little attention paid to the analytic component of these initiatives. A holistic digital strategy should focus on each of these disruptive forces, and harmonize their role in meeting well defined business objectives. The analytics component of this strategy should be front and center. If data is king, then analytics can’t be an afterthought.

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