Turning Data Chaos Into Business Gold - InformationWeek
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8/28/2006
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Turning Data Chaos Into Business Gold

CIOs shouldn't simply extract information. They should instead derive intelligence about customers, the supply chain, and competitors, then explore new applications that can put that intelligence to use for the business.

How can we derive better intelligence from data and what should we be doing differently with that intelligence? The quest for answers to these age-old questions is gaining new urgency—and presenting more opportunities for CIOs than ever before.

The potential exists to derive actionable intelligence about customers, the supply chain, employees, facilities, and competitors, to name a few. This promise isn't due to any fundamental changes in the technical capabilities of data warehouses, but may be attributed to the way we interact with content—and the changing nature of content itself.

Inside the enterprise, changes to the way we use content and data have been slow in coming. Portals, enterprise search, and business-intelligence tools are among the primary means of accessing information, and changes are incremental. Outside the enterprise, however, change is far more dramatic. The range of technologies and practices in this sphere, often referred to as Web 2.0, is characteristic of many of these developments. These rapid-fire changes impact how we create, adapt, distribute, and consume content.

The phenomenon of blogs and wikis is the most notable development in distributed content creation. Mash-ups—combinations of online data sources and presentation methods—provide a growing palette of highly specific tools. Additionally, an increasing number of social-networking sites and collaboration tools work across organizational and enterprise boundaries—often surpassing the collaboration support that occurs within the enterprise.

A central theme running through these changes is the prevalence of bottom-up, distributed approaches that are often anathema to the enterprise. Inside the enterprise, we tend to rely on a small number of centralized, CIO-approved applications for internal data intended to be most things to most people. However, that's all changing with the gradual adoption of bottom-up, decentralized methods within the enterprise—one of the hallmarks of Enterprise 2.0.

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