Our new survey suggests that companies experienced in analytics use are increasingly gaining competitive advantage — but their approaches vary.
Several prominent technology companies recently predicted that a zettabyte of data will soon be racing about the Internet.1 This raises several important questions, including, just what is a zettabyte? The answer: a nearly unfathomable quantity of data, roughly equivalent to the information contained in 100 million Libraries of Congress. The next big data measure after zettabyte is a yottabyte. It is not named after a Star Wars character. Describing the size of a yottabyte makes you sound like a 5-year-old: “You know, it’s a thousand trillion billion bytes…” It would take billions of years to download a yottabyte file at current high-speed broadband speeds. If Internet traffic continues to grow at current rates, we will likely approach the yottabyte milestone before the end of this century.2 At that point or, more likely, long before, we will have to invent some new words for what comes next. The International Organization for Standardization and the International Electrotechnical Commission — the official name givers for this sort of thing — have no words for chunks of data that large. It is no small problem when words fail to capture the world’s immensity. When old concepts fail to keep up with change, traditions and past experience become inadequate guides for what to do next. When the normal ties between what is known and what is wise, between knowledge and practical wisdom tease apart, a gap emerges and the routes to wisdom shift.
The Leading Question
What kinds of organizations are gaining a competitive advantage from analytics, and how?
- There is a widening gap between organizations that are gaining advantage.
- Management support for analytics, including sponsors and top-down mandates, is critical.
- Data-oriented cultures have three key characteristics that can be developed and refined.
For managers, the pressure is on to find new approaches to their portion of the zettabyte — to develop new data-oriented management systems that make sense of the enormous amount of data their organizations are generating.