Imagine a new type of business, one in which the fabric of data is so woven throughout the enterprise that it becomes almost a living, breathing entity that one day may even be able to make the right decisions for you. That’s the future presented in the book, The Sentient Enterprise: The Evolution of Business Decision Making, by my friend Oliver Ratzesberger and Kellogg Professor Mohan Sawhney. On the surface, it may seem like science fiction, but our customers have shown us that this future could be closer to today’s reality than you might think.
The City of San Diego has enabled their parking meters with autonomous sensors powered by General Electric. They’re going beyond just simple data capture to generating information by correlating parking patterns and simple data points like changes in light and weather. Munich Re collects data from sensors embedded in vehicles and heavy equipment. This enables them to experiment with building model behaviors to drive more accurate insurance risk analysis. Tesla ingests terabytes of data daily from their vehicles, monitoring both performance and root case of any issues that arise once their electric vehicles have left the factory floor. All of these Alation customers are experimenting with the beginnings of the Sentient Enterprise.
The Problems at Hand
The explosion in the amount of data that an enterprise has to deal with and the related rise of self-service analytics has resulted in several problems that the Sentient Enterprise intends to tackle. Oliver and Mohan have outlined five stages of development that organizations can embrace to evolve from data-aware to sentient. This journey is supported by describing five “platforms” that, taken as a whole, make analytics operational, production-ready and easily shareable across an organization. We’re pleased to be referenced as an example of the third platform – the Collaborative Ideation Platform.
Perhaps the most critical realization of the study however, is that Sentient organizations are not siloed organizations. The Sentient Enterprise requires everyone have access to real-time data and the information derived from it – from IT professionals and data analysts to the city employee, actuary, production line worker, salesperson and marketer.
In most enterprises, data exists in several silos and different departments within the same organization can’t get their data to match. And users of data often are told to wait for the IT department to pull the data they need. But this is a far cry from collaboration.
It is human collaboration that differentiates Alation from the competition. While others will catalog your data, only Alation continues to innovate on how collaboration can change the very nature of your analysis. From enabling round-the-sun customer analysis for Albertson’s customer insights team with Alation Articles to training product managers at eBay on how to use SQL through SmartSuggest in Alation Compose, we’re committed to supporting the human endeavor of using data to find insights. And the collaboration necessary to drive true business value from those insights. All from a single platform, automated by intelligence but built for human collaboration.