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Big Data Analytics and the Disruptive Enterprise


In his book The Innovator’s Dilemma, Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen explains why established companies fail to respond correctly to disruptive technologies. New technologies appear on the scene that appear to be less than competitive with what the established company offers. They seem to be no threat to mature, established offerings. But before the established company knows what hits them, the new players — enjoying significant momentum and evolving rapidly — grab a substantial  piece of their market share and often drive them out of business altogether.

An example: look at what digital photography did to the traditional photography industry. The first digital cameras produced low-resolution images; they suffered from “shutter-lag” (that little delay that often made the photographer miss the moment they were trying to capture); and they didn’t have storage to hold many pictures. They were no threat.  But as those problems were rapidly addressed, digital photography  more or less wiped out traditional photography. More recently, smart phones have massively disrupted the digital camera market.

And on it goes. Christensen shows how this pattern repeats itself time and again across every industry and every sector of the economy. Players in manufacturing, healthcare, retail, and entertainment have all been repeatedly disrupted over the years and will be again in the years to come. (Of course, Hadoop is a perfect  example of a disruptive technology, and a key reason I’m at Platfora.)

In a follow-up book, The Innovator’s SolutionChristensen tweaks his hypothesis by arguing that it is disruptive innovation (not technology in and of itself) that really raises these challenges for established companies.  Where disruption is concerned, the best defense is a good offense. Established companies can avoid disruption by becoming disruptive innovators themselves.

So what does your company have to do in order to become a disrupter? Christensen outlines a multi-tiered approach that starts with adopting disruption-friendly values and empowering a management team to make quick decisions and implement change rapidly. Your would-be disruptive enterprise needs a deep understanding of the market in which you operate, your customer base,  and your own operation.

To get a better handle on the market space in which you operate, you need to see information in context and to be able to synthesize data from multiple sources into a single, expanded view.  Platfora’s Event Series Analytics capability enables you to consolidate events, behaviors, actions, and results into a single timeline — creating a unified narrative out of widely disparate data points. Until recently, this kind of synthesis could be achieved, if at all, only by data scientists in companies with large research organizations and a lot of time and money on their hands. Platfora puts these capabilities into the hands of your business decision-makers, providing flexible, open-ended exploration and immediate answers to questions about what is happening in the market today and what may be coming next.

To support a deeper understanding of the needs and behaviors of both existing and new customers, Christensen explains that segmentation is key. Platfora Big Data Analytics provides the flexibility to define customer segments across entities such as customers, products, or devices. Extending well beyond the standard demographic and static-attribute-based classifications that are a hallmark of traditional BI, with Platfora you can create segments based on any possible combination of attributes and behaviors. This kind of robust segmentation capability can reveal the hidden relationships, drivers, and roadblocks that you must understand in order to create the kind of disruptive value proposition that will move your business ahead.

To provide more thorough insights into your own operation, Platfora provides self-service analytics capability across all of your customer interaction, machine and transactional data sets. Basing crucial decisions on subsets of data (or data that is out of date) makes your business more vulnerable to the actions of would-be disrupters who have you in their sites. It also increases the likelihood that you will overlook something crucial when implementing your own disruptive strategies.

So, if you want to avoid being smacked by disruption, become a disrupter yourself. Who better to help you do that than Platfora, a company who is itself completely disrupting the Business Intelligence and Analytics markets? Platfora supports the disruptive enterprise by putting Big Data Analytics the into the hands of their business decision-makers. With Platfora, you can visualize insights and make decisions that were never before possible—all at the speed of business and without the intervention of IT.