Data, data everywhere, but not a drop to drink… I’ve known Shawn Rogers for several years, as an analyst and then as that rare breed of practical thought leader in the vendor community. Meanwhile, Tibco’s job has traditionally been about getting data from where it is situated, to where it is needed. I was keen to find out how providers are keeping up with the explosion of data we are seeing today, not only in terms of products but more importantly, approach.
What do you see as the most significant trends driving the market?
At Tibco, we see four drivers to how organizations and people are using information better:
- New communities of users are emerging, who use insight in new ways
- This drives new economic advantages – anybody can get value from information
- Meanwhile, technology creates new data sources, creating opportunities – for example from sensors
- And finally, access has vastly extended, you can now have access to all the data, not just specific pools
As a result, companies are creating new businesses for themselves – Bigbelly smart waste is a great example, they reinvented what they were doing. Another mobile phone company, Telenor, specialises in emerging countries. The organisation reinvented its process, using mobile data to lend money, using calling records as a way of measuring credit worthiness to help the ‘unbanked’ – people without bank accounts.
What does this mean for how enterprises look at the data they can access?
These drivers are causing organisations to look to ‘level up’ in terms of how they manage and leverage data and insight.
- First level – look at the data
- Then look at the insight
- Then learn from the process
- Finish by optimising, closing the loop to deliver a true System Of Insight (SOI).
At lower levels, people have the data, but need to bring in learning and optimisation. Higher up, the question is, can you fully finish that loop? Finishing the loop gives the pay off on value, extending the investment back into data. Our job is to help them not only level up, but arrive at a point where they are truly insight-driven.
How is this playing out in practical terms?
We’re seeing Analytics, AI/ML as enablers to innovation – using today’s tech to influence what you already do, to influence and enhance products and services, finding new opportunities to use your expertise.
There’s a term many use called “data exhaust” – how can you make better use of the data you already have from whatever you are doing right now, what things are you doing already that can give you better opportunity?
This impacts at CEO level – do they see a use case for the algorithm economy? Are they algorithmically driven, thinking about ways to infuse their business?
What approach are you taking as a result?
We’re building our strategy around the idea of “connected intelligence”, which is in two parts. First, we help organizations interconnect everything – that’s Tibco’s traditional business, which also reflects the first step in how companies have been managing data. And second, we are looking at augmented intelligence, working on the analytics side of data.
Of course, we’ve had products (such as the Spotfire dashboard) to help here in the past, but we are moving toward a comprehensive approach incorporating streaming analytics and data science. Fundamentally, we’re taking notice of the need to do analytics everywhere, without always moving data back to the centre – which changes the way organizations think about analytics.
Overall however, it means we are looking to help organizations augment what they are doing through data-driven insight. We can look at existing assets and investments, and help them see where algorithms can deliver new benefits.
What does this mean in terms of Tibco’s engagement model?
Tibco is ready to intersect with the next level of analytic maturity, jumping where things are today, very concerned and planning for what the next level is. Some need the technology, others need the strategy to get there.
For customers, it’s about repeatability, staying compliant, scaling to be comprehensive. If you can align those things with frameworks like SOI, you can become consultative rather than a software approach. This means, the kinds of teams we need are very important.
My take: helping decision makers drive data-driven decision making
Digital transformation is an over-used term, which I’m happy to say didn’t really come up in my discussion with Shawn. Rather, the focus was around data-oriented augmentation – that is, if you can access all the data, what opportunities does this bring? Sometimes perhaps you might see a whole new business model, but at others, it is more about doing what you already do much better.
It is interesting that the Tibco’s focus is turning towards a more consultative approach, given how, surely, it’s just about throughput, right? Given the increasing diversity and complexity of the data landscape, the resulting variety of opportunities an organisation needs to decide between, and variability of architectural constraints between models, this approach makes absolute sense. As my mother once told me, you can have anything you want, but you can’t have everything you want.
(Image of the Tibco web site. Hat-tip to Forrester’s Brian Hopkins and colleagues for their work on Systems of Insight)