By Dave Hannon
I am not going to throw a bunch of statistics at you to tell you how much more data you have in your enterprise today than you did a few years ago. You know that. You see it. I will not cite the usual analyst study imploring you to make the most of this data. You have made that a top priority in your enterprise. I have seen that.
No, today, I want to ask you how you plan to execute on the data opportunities that lie before you. And, more specifically, what the impact on your overall IT landscape will be as a result. As the amount and type of data you leverage changes and grows, so too does your IT landscape—it has to. You will not be able to leverage the new data with your current solution landscape because, frankly, some of the data has not even been imagined yet, so the solution to analyze it certainly has not either.
So this is going to force you to make some decisions down the road—and you have probably made some already. For example, a few years ago, social networks had nothing to do with business and today, for certain companies, social media data is a very valuable source of customer information that must be analyzed in near real-time. And if your IT vendor of choice does not have the solution to do that, you have three choices: 1. Square peg that data into a round-hole solution you have in place. 2. Go out and find another vendor for a more appropriate solution and integrate it. 3. Put that data analysis on the back burner and risk missing out on the value it may bring.
Well, social media data is just one example. You are going to be making that same decision many times going forward and if you select option
2 every time, your IT landscape could get very complicated. Every industry has a new valuable data source emerging that needs to get analyzed (data collected from automobiles, point-of-sale data from retailers, location-based data from users’ devices, machine uptime/downtime data, do you need me to continue because I can).
"So much new data is out there," Brian McCarthy, director of strategy for analytics at Accenture, told the MIT Technology Review. "Companies are trying to figure out how to extract value from all the noise….Data-related startups are also on the rise in Silicon Valley; most big VC firms now have a partner specializing in the field."
Luckily, if you are an SAP customer, the decision process will be a little easer than other companies (yes, I used the “scare them and then put them at ease” blogging strategy there—was it effective?). SAP’s use of the ecosystem concept and the openness with which SAP admits that its partners fill the functionality gaps is a big advantage to customers. SAP is not trying to do everything itself, but rather, decide what it wants to address in-house and then point you to the right vendors for other areas. This will help keep your IT landscape more manageable. Relatively speaking that is.
“I have never met a customer who wants to be locked into one vendor’s technology and applications stack,” said Eric Duffaut, SAP’s President of Global Ecosystem and Channels in this recent SAPinsider article. “N
o single vendor can possibly cater to every industry or every business and technology requirement, especially now, given the rate of innovation and the dynamics of the marketplace. But SAP, with its open ecosystem of partners, can. So, choice — being able to augment your SAP landscape with the solutions and services you consider appropriate — is clearly one essential advantage that an ecosystem delivers and one reason why I feel the ecosystem warrants significant investment by SAP.”
After covering a lot of companies in a lot of industries, I have to say that is a refreshingly honest assessment of a vendor’s place in their customer’s world.
But make no mistake, SAP is definitely not going to sit by and watch other companies address the variety of new opportunities coming from this new data. As you heard about at SAPPHIRE NOW and will be hearing in the very near future, SAP is targeting some niche business processes with mobile and on-premise solutions. And I mean niche like you would expect from a startup, not from a behemoth like SAP.
As an industry observer, I look forward to watching this all play out. It is an exciting time to be covering the enterprise IT market. Every day I hear about an exciting example of how companies are answering these questions with unique and effective strategies and plans and I hope your company is the next one to blow me away.