This is a contributed piece by Greg Arnette, founder and CTO of Sonian
Data is streaming across and through industry IT services at unprecedented rates. Not only are businesses collecting large amounts of data, they are collecting it within their own walls – and the rate at which they produce data is only predicted to grow. In fact, experts anticipate an increase of 4,300 percent in annual data production – and more than one-third of the data produced will live in or pass through the cloud by 2020. Businesses are constantly gathering new information related to everything from customer demographics and process efficiency to employee communications history. But while businesses sit on an ever-growing treasure trove of data, most are struggling to efficiently extract value from this vast corpus of information and use it to steer their organisations forward.
Enter the tech industry’s latest trend: “Insights-as-a-Service.” Recently championed by companies such as IBM and Capgemini, Insights-as-a-Service, or simply “Insights,” refers to cloud-based services that provide data-driven insights to businesses with specific action plans around how to leverage these insights to achieve business goals. A study by IBM demonstrated that companies that leverage various structured and unstructured data sources and use prescriptive analytics report better results, measured by key performance indicators (KPIs). These businesses reported greater effectiveness at addressing business challenges – in fact, they were seven times more effective at developing new revenue streams, three times more likely to excel at developing insights regarding their customers and marketplace and three times more efficient in their operations. Forward-thinking businesses will seriously consider services that examine what their data can reveal about organisational trends, challenges, opportunities and threats, and how they can implement changes that will put them on the proper path for meeting their goals.
Go beyond transactional to unearth crucial business issues
Reams of valuable “signal” data flow through companies on a daily basis. Just think about what could be happening at your own company right now: while marketers scan social media or use location data from smartphones to understand a customer’s buying patterns, a sales representative could be sharing intellectual property in one-off emails to an outside source, or taking in customer credit card information in violation of company security and compliance policies.
With Insights, these data exchanges, correlated with other system and employee data, can serve as a source of never-before-possible revelations about organisational operations and health. It can even put a stop to potentially business-threatening employee behavior, such as the sharing of intellectual property and proprietary information or counter inbound threats such as email phishing attempts.
Better security management
Advances in technology in the form of greater computer power at lower costs and sophisticated analytics mean companies can collect and process data in near real-time. And while it’s commonly believed that the more data an organisation has, the greater its advantage, collecting an essentially unlimited amount of data can create serious challenges when it overwhelms internal system capabilities. As SaaS becomes the new “normal” for IT back office systems, that data must also be protected, as was the case with earlier on-premises systems that preceded it. New threats arise from sophisticated AI-powered malware that can alter SaaS records silently and ultimately corrupt data.
Insights can serve as a defensive shield to counter those threats by proactively alerting businesses about threats and behavior of which they may have been previously unaware or unable to detect. Forward-thinking companies’ internal IT departments can now provide a layer of security analytics or insights, allowing them to actively monitor internal systems and understand if users are breaking company policy by being careless – or even malicious – with information sharing. For SaaS systems that are not homegrown, IT has the ability to better protect internal systems, giving them peace of mind that comes from being able to assess whether or not their security measures are working. According to the aforementioned IBM study, organisations that use insights are 2.5 times more effective at responding and putting an end to security risks.
In many ways, data within company walls is what drives corporate performance by serving as the building blocks of its proprietary resources. However, failing to properly leverage and act on that data can do more harm than good. With Insights-as-a-Service as a trusted cloud-based strategy, IT professionals have the opportunity to both help their companies monitor risk and potential security breaches, while steering their organisations forward based on the business opportunities IaaS can unearth.
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