Sentience: Reimagine What’s Next for Big Data in the era of AI

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In this special guest feature, Oliver Ratzesberger, Chief Product Officer for Teradata, discusses his new book titled “The Sentient Enterprise” which highlights the future of business decision-making, analytics, AI and deep learning. Oliver Ratzesberger is an accomplished practitioner, thought leader and popular speaker on using data and analytics to create competitive advantage – known as his Sentient Enterprise vision. Oliver is the executive vice president and chief product officer for Teradata. Oliver leads Teradata’s world-class research and development organization and provides strategic direction for all research and development related to Teradata Database, integrated data warehousing, big data analytics, and associated solutions.

How many times have you been in a meeting and this happens: Everyone has tapped into the enterprises’ analytics capabilities, parsing through numbers and forecasts, and they come to the meeting knowing exactly what they need to do to get better results. But then, when everyone compares notes, no one’s information matches up.

Each person’s data points to a different solution, and they spend nearly the entire meeting debating whose version of the truth is correct. Nothing gets accomplished, and everyone returns to their offices on their own disparate mission.

I have had the privilege of gaining an intimate view into the data challenges of some of the largest organizations and institutions across every industry, and one thing is clear — they need a new approach. They need a methodology that allows them to be agile and leverage data and analytics to drive competitive advantage. Enterprises need a way not to just react to the latest piece of insight they have. All this information needs to be fed into one working model, a system of systems that performs in lockstep, so organizations function less like departmentalized institutions and pivot to functions more like a living organism. Companies need to be able to take in massive amounts of information and use that data to make real-time decisions — on its own.

I’m not alone in my thinking. I happened to dive into this with Mohan Shawney, an academic researcher and consultant from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, and together, we’ve painted a picture of what this journey looks like. It’s a concept we call The Sentient Enterprise.

The sentient enterprise doesn’t represent the actual destination. Instead, it’s more like a North Star, helping enterprises aspire to gain more from their analytics investments, so they can overcome their struggles and make decisions at the speed of data. To achieve this vision, organizations must be proactive, operate without any silos, be able to leverage autonomous technology to make decisions in real time without much human intervention, be scalable so everyone in the company can leverage unlimited data for decision-making, and they must be able to continue to evolve through their native adoption of analytics intelligence.

This isn’t some esoteric stake post too far away to achieve. Businesses today are harnessing algorithms to make predictive decisions. But the sentient enterprise goes a step beyond that: It feeds back all data to inform all decisions in real time, providing certainty and clarity. It’s about creating a corporate framework with analytics at the backbone — not just for your customers, but internally for the organization itself. No more questions about the truth. No more wishing you had an analytics tool as intuitive as the technology available on your kid’s on their tablet. No more waiting in line for the handful of data scientists at your company to answer a question you have.

The sentient enterprise journey is simply the path to get there, and it’s one every company needs to take to be able to survive and compete in today’s data-driven landscape. It will reshape business decisioning, both big and small. To get there, you don’t have to do it all, and you don’t have to do it all at once.

In our research, we’ve talked to countless companies that have reshaped their analytic ecosystems and taken their own first steps on the path toward sentience — companies like Cisco, GM, eBay, Dell, Verizon and Wells Fargo. Each of these companies’ stories prove that when an enterprise makes that initial move to analytic decision-making at scale, they can achieve some of the most cutting-edge applications imaginable in the enterprise today.

Read these stories for yourself in our book, “The Sentient Enterprise,” and take the first step toward disrupting your own company with advanced analytics today, ensuring no one else disrupts your enterprise tomorrow.


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