Step outside your analytics comfort zone to drive cross-industry innovation

Senior Content Marketing Manager, Communications Sector, IBM Analytics

Advanced analytics is here to stay. We all know how analytics has transformed entire industries, organizations and roles—and it will continue to do so.

Chief data officers (CDOs) and chief information officers (CIOs) are working to expand the universe of today’s data-driven business. But to do so, they require tools, talent and technology necessary for good governance, scalable architecture and rock-solid security and privacy.

Similarly, if personnel working in line of business (LOB) roles are to deliver growth outcomes, they require self-service applications, prepackaged solutions and insights as a service. Data scientists and developers, by contrast, need to innovate ever more quickly while scaling securely using cloud data services, open-source environments and a solid foundation for accessing and activating the Internet of Things (IoT).

Get outside your analytics comfort zone

No one can argue the importance of diving in deep and becoming an expert on the use cases and primary applications for analytics in your industry or your role within the organization. But we also need to step outside our comfort zone to consider other roles and other industries. Why? The reason is simple: When the time comes to look beyond our piece of the pie, a narrow focus can hold us back. Certainly our comfort zone is where we do our daily work—but outside our comfort zone is where the magic happens.

Consider looking beyond your planet to see the stars. To start with, let’s take a look at the Advanced Analytics Comfort Zone:

Every member of the C-suite and LOB surrounds the common core components for turning raw data into actionable insights. Each role has its defined mission, a how and when for applying analytics to the job. Now draw imaginary lines from role to role in this chart, swapping roles so each member understands clearly and completely what everyone else is doing and why. Doing so makes sense, yes? But does it also sound uncomfortable—perhaps time-consuming as well?

Discover cross-industry analytics applications

Stop for a moment and ask a single question of yourself and of the next team you’ll be meeting: How do you define your analytics comfort zone? If your answer or theirs speaks largely to an individual or even a collective role in your business, try looking farther.

For example, when I spoke in Warsaw at the IBM Business Connect Summit, I discussed various use cases, including demand forecasting for media and entertainment. After my talk, the CIO of a large multi-national bank based in the Eurozone told me that he saw how that unique application of predictive analytics could be applied in financial services to predict how offers will perform. His discovery got me thinking about other possible cross-industry links:

  • “customer of one” retail experience is personalized and social, and it is ever more mobile. Providing such an experience requires unification and analysis of a wide variety of data sets, including demographic, transactional, interactions and behavioral. And though we typically think of this as a business-to-consumer application, couldn’t it apply in business-to-business scenarios as well?
  • Financial counterfraud management is no longer only for insurance and banking, but also has applications in healthcare, advertising, distribution, energy and more. The question isn’t who has to deal with fraud but rather who doesn’t have to deal with fraud—and the list is very short. Real-time fraud analytics can help businesses in all sectors detect, discover, investigate and respond to fraudulent activity.
  • Demand forecasting in media and entertainment drives value through enhanced engagement, activating the entire entertainment lifecycle—create, market, distribute, monetize, experience—to connect product development to customer desires. Does this all sound familiar? It certainly should.
  • Predictive maintenance in manufacturing boosts availability and throughput while cutting maintenance costs. But in Utrecht, at the Big Data Expo, I talked to a customer who is considering using this solution to meet aggressive production and uptime goals—in massively multiplayer online video games.

The list could go on, encompassing such things as proactive care in telecommunications to how disruptors are using the Internet of Things. And those are only the beginning.

Bring innovation back with you

So let’s ask ourselves and our teams another question: How will you get outside your analytics comfort zone?

Start by talking to people. Interact with people who fill as many different roles within your company as you can, then use Twitter and LinkedIn to follow people of similar roles who work in different industries. The next time you’re at a tech conference, spend your time talking to people to discover what “the other guys” are doing—then take that knowledge back to your office, where it can help you reshape the business world you are helping to create.

Remember: Innovation begins at the end of your analytics comfort zone. Are you ready to go outside? New insights await.

Join big data professionals from many industries around the world at IBM Insight to discover just how far outside you can get. Also, to learn more about IBM solutions that can point you on your way, see how IBM is providing analytics for media and entertainment, telecommunications and financial applications.