Why Intelligence Is The New Oil For The Future Enterprise

Carlos Lacerda and Philip Carter

A perspective from Southern Europe, Middle East, and Africa

Much has been said about data being the new oil that will fuel businesses in the future. But the reality is that it’s not about the amount of data that organizations have access to, but how effective their decisions are based on that data. Therefore, data alone will not be the new oil, rather intelligence will fuel the digital economy, and organizations that can create intelligent business processes to deliver contextualized and consent-based experiences will win in this new data-driven world.

As intelligence (and technology in general) increasingly underpins future business models, there is a big question around the role of IT moving forward. The CIO needs to be part of boardroom discussions driving decision-making around the broader business (and digital) strategy. This raises yet another debate about the role of the CIO in this context.

IDC believes that in the emerging set of “tech stakeholders” highlighted in the digital dream team below, the CIO clearly has an important role to play: as an orchestrator of budgets, technologies, and the teams (business and IT) to deliver on the organization’s digital vision.

the digital dream team from IDC

Moving toward an obsession with intelligent business processes

IDC’s research shows that 92% of CIOs are aiming to be either “strategic” or “disruptive” in their organizations over the next three to five years in order to deliver an enterprise-wide digital transformation agenda. The biggest challenge on this journey is the fact that the amount of information stored within an enterprise is growing at approximately 40% every year, and external data pipelines are growing exponentially. In this context, it is no surprise that the transformation of information into actionable intelligence will be the difference between winning and losing in the digital era. Therefore, CIOs need to move away from an obsession with technology to an obsession with the intelligent business processes that link to the digital dream team. But the language needs to change. For example:

  • An IoT project should be about delivering visibility across the design-to-operate business process, led by the head of supply chain.
  • Blockchain can help build trust in an ecosystem of suppliers in the source-to-pay process, led by the CFO.
  • Machine learning should focus more on recommendations to increase sales in the lead-to-cash process, driven by the head of sales and customer experience.

Let’s take, for example, the design-to-operate intelligent process highlighted below. In the digital era, there is a requirement for a centralized data management platform to create a single version of truth integrating data from all the systems, business applications, and digital apps underpinning this business process. This, in turn, is fed by data pipelines from external sources that need to be incorporated in real time across the process, driving specific actions, either automated or guided by intelligent technologies (typically AI/ML-based). Finally, that single version of the truth needs to be fleshed out via an end-to-end analytics layer providing real-time, end-to-end visibility to the various members of the digital dream team.

from centralized data management to analytics

Driving the business-process orchestration strategy

In parallel, there is clearly an emerging role in a digital platform architecture to drive “moments of truth” into these intelligent business processes. The next phase of the application landscape evolution is going to all be about integration, and IDC believes that integration and extension capabilities are critical to drive the business-process orchestration strategy enabling future business processes. This platform will provide a unified set of connection points across multiple systems’ applications and digital apps that might be distributed across on-premises, hosted, or public clouds. Based on these capabilities, the digital platform can be used to fast-track integration and trigger new workflows/business processes, leveraging applications that could be a mix of legacy on-premises and SaaS applications.

Let’s move into a real-life scenario to highlight how this could potentially play out. Imagine for a moment that you are running the operational “cockpit” within an airport. Data triggers are constantly flowing across the operational business processes in the form of flight arrivals or departures, parking lot capacity, movement of assets (e.g., terminal facilities and vehicles), security waiting times, and real-time sales volumes in the retail shops. If incorporated into the “moments of truth” via intelligent technologies for operational managers, they can help drive real-time decision-making, such as preventing a flight delay by informing a gate manager there is a problem with a boarding bridge. This is exactly the sort of example that highlights how technology investments can deliver clear financial outcomes when innovation and agility are brought to the core of the enterprise.

Dramatically shifting mindsets

IDC’s research shows that 65% of CEOs in Europe are under considerable pressure to deliver a successful digital transformation strategy. Over the past few years, organizations have been making massive technology investments to transform their businesses. However, to deliver the associated financial outcomes linked to those investments, there must be a dramatic shift in the mindset. We need to move from technologies, projects, and resources to business outcomes, products, and talent. Technology is just a means to an end. It needs to enable business value in those moments of truth across the intelligent business processes that define scale in the digital era.

Please join this live Webinar Tuesday, Oct. 29 to hear from Mustafa Mustafa of Ferrara Candy Company as he shares his insights and experiences. These include the company’s strategic imperatives, project goals, deployment of SAP HANA and the quantified business value, including a 90% reduction in time to build data models. Register here.

And please learn more about SAP database management offerings and read the “Predictive Analytics and Machine Learning” series.


Carlos Lacerda

About Carlos Lacerda

Carlos Lacerda is the vice president for Southern Europe, Middle East, and Africa for SAP’s Platform and Technologies line of business. He is also a non-executive Board Member for ANA, Portuguese Airports. Before rejoining SAP, he was a member of the Executive Committee of Vinci Airports and CEO for ANA, with full accountability for ANA´s P&L. He was also responsible for transforming the company´s culture and its digitalization, as well as negotiating with key government stakeholders for major airport investments in Portugal. Previously, he was managing director of SAP Portugal. He has also served as managing director for Microsoft Malaysia, and was a member of the senior leadership team for Microsoft Asia Pacific. Carlos has degrees in mechanical engineering and business administration from the Technical University of Lisbon (IST), an advanced business administration degree from IESE/AESE Business School (University of Navarra), and in marketing from Kellogg School of Management.

Philip Carter

About Philip Carter

Philip Carter is chief analyst for the European region with IDC. This new role has been created specifically to drive innovation in new research topics and deliverables, to promote collaboration and knowledge sharing, and to increase customer satisfaction. Specifically, he will identify new topics and themes and drive thought leadership, working with the broader team to continuously inject innovation into IDC's regional deliverables, events, and CXO Summits.