Klaus Schwab, founder of World Economic Forum, and author of the book, The Fourth Industrial Revolution, said that there is no historical precedent for the speed of current technological breakthroughs, and that the Fourth Revolution is evolving at an exponential, rather than linear pace.
The Third Industrial Revolution introduced the personal computer and the internet, and moved industry from analog devices and processes to simple digitization. Schwab said the Fourth is a shift to “innovation based on combinations of technologies, forcing companies to re-examine the way they do business.”
Ian Rowlands, Product Marketing Director for ASG’s Data Intelligence Solutions, in a recent DATAVERSITY® interview, described the Fourth Industrial Revolution as a cycle where user demands are increasing, and those demands drive an increasing rate of change, which in turn, drives increasing volumes of data, in an atmosphere of increasing regulatory pressure.
The Cloud Computing phenomenon, the consumerization and democratization of data, and mobility — the notion that we should be able to access our information wherever we are, whenever we are — have all become commonplace, Rowlands said. The proliferation of essential services available online is increasing exponentially, and smart devices have made their way into homes seemingly overnight. Rowlands said he looks around his house and realizes that he has voice-controlled audio, sensors on his air conditioning, and sensors on his alarms. “I’m a kind of IoT person almost without knowing it.”
Although technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning seem like overnight successes, they’ve been around for a long time and are just now gaining traction, he said, and the rate of adoption shows no sign of slowing down. “There’s a lot going on, but that is nothing compared to what it’s going to be.”
The Desire for Data
“People have a desire to get their hands on more data,” said Rowlands, but also have “an expectation that their data will be taken care of. So there is a kind of conflict in that.” There is “an explosion” of data available to fulfill that desire, but collecting information alone is not enough.
“You have to enrich that information and provide the best-rounded picture of a piece of information that you can, so the business users can trust the information and use it rapidly.”
Rowlands contrasted a company that provides its users with easily accessed, trusted data in a well-governed environment to one where users must take the time to find needed data, and once it’s found, then spend time figuring out where it came from, and if it’s trustworthy. When opportunities arise, the differences between those two companies can mean the difference between success and failure. Information is being aggregated in new ways, which is a key revolutionary enabler. Rowlands’ customers are using change analysis and modernization as part of their drive to digitization.
“Organizations are going back and looking at the way they do things, and thinking ‘How do we need to change that?’ That’s never a simple question to answer.”
Financial compliance is also a major concern, especially in the financial industry, which now has to deal with more penalties than any other industry. GDPR is another issue affecting almost every business.
Time to Value Becomes a Critical Metric
Rowlands shared an example about the importance of finding and using different types of data to inform a successful product marketing campaign for Winter Olympics-branded silver jackets. Product data, customer data, and geolocation data were brought in from a variety of sources to find the right market as quickly as possible. The company researched demographics, insights and “outsights” — a new term for Rowlands. “Insights is using data to understand how things affect your own internal business, and outsights is about using data to understand how it affects the external world.”
New patterns of consumer behavior are forcing companies to change how they market, design, and deliver products, said Schwab. New solutions are emerging, and the next market disruptor may be just around the corner, so the speed at which a company selects the right marketing channel has become more important than ever.
Information Management Becomes a Core Competency
With a global use of 20 billion connected devices and an average of 23 online connections per person, personal data regulation is applying “moral pressure” on organizations by raising the stakes, Rowlands said. “What does this look like when every company must be an information company?” The issue of “digital transformation” springs from the understanding that companies that are good at information do better than companies that aren’t good at information, he said, “And there is good data behind that.”
The concept of “omni channel,” where customers expect engagement in every possible channel, and digital natives expect to have access via common devices anytime, including in the workplace, are challenges for organizations, as is the multilayered process of regulatory compliance, he said. The Cloud is becoming the default location for many apps and is required to enable connectivity and mobility. “And associated with all of that is an expectation of operational excellence, so information management is now a core competency.”
Self-Service, Data Governance, and Data Value
As companies move closer to providing access to data across the enterprise, user personas are no longer limited to just “power users,” “stewards,” or “specialists.” Rowlands characterizes this as a spectrum of personas, with different users needing access to capabilities that are very carefully managed and mediated. He cautions that with increased access to data, “Compliance is not going away. It’s only going to get more onerous.”
Taking the social media crowdsourcing concept of likes and dislikes, and applying it to data or assets can provide a way to indicate reliability, quality, or usefulness of that data, but he cautions that there is no power without responsibility: “If everybody is becoming a data citizen, everybody has to become a data governor.”
Data Monetization: Moving from Defense to Offense
Rowlands considers the issue of Data Monetization — getting value out of data — one of the most interesting emerging ideas. He said that historically, Data Management has been “on the back foot” — taking a defensive posture — and he would like to see a turn toward an offensive, more proactive approach. “How do we move from strict, compliance-focused, to where we’re treating data as a valuable asset?” Value-added data requires context:
“You’ve really got to be able to say, ‘This data supports that use case’ or ‘This data supports that user community,’ and you can’t do a good job if you can’t inventory your data and you can’t classify data.”
“We’re a Metadata-based platform providing the deepest integration across the widest range of Metadata, data, and applications understanding, to support data-related compliance and transformation.” Success in Fourth Industrial Revolution terms is about managing information for insight and value, delivering content to processes and people, bringing content and process to the mobile network, and providing and governing information on any device, he said, “And that’s what ASG is all about.”
The range of technologies and capabilities involved in information management entails capturing and managing information, understanding and trusting it, sharing and using it, but also governing it, he cautions.
“One of the big myths about new technologies is that anybody can have any access to any data, anytime, and do whatever the heck they like with it. It’s not quite like that. It has to be a governed and managed environment.”
He said that ASG provides that environment in a single information platform, deployed on premise, in the Cloud or in a hybrid environment, with strong mobile capabilities and a standardized API to allow for smooth integration. “Clearly, we’re in the Data Governance business,” he said. ASG’s strengths are in business semantics, workflow, and inventory, “And we’re extremely strong in terms of Data Lineage.” With that robust commitment to compliance and lineage, ASG now offers out-of-the-box reports and dashboards, delivered on any browser, in highly-visual formats for GDPR compliance and auto-identification of personal data.
He commented that ASG “delivers global organizations with a modern approach to Digital Transformation to succeed in the Information Economy.” ASG is the only solutions provider for,
“Both Information Management and IT Systems. We enable companies to find, understand, govern and deliver information of any kind, from any source – whether structured or unstructured – through its lifecycle from capture to analysis to consumption.”
Rowlands said that along with personal Data Lineage, ASG can provide not just technical lineage, but application lineage and business lineage as well. Data Analysis and enrichment capabilities include tagging and adding reference data to provide context, as well as data inventory, business semantics, and data valuation. Rowlands said that his customers want a business understanding of their data and a complete view of what’s happening in the business, from the definition of business policy all the way through to an understanding of the applications used. “One of our tag lines is, ‘Know your data, know your business,’” he said, “and that’s true.”
The Fourth Industrial Revolution continues to bring change, but Rowlands said the fundamentals are still the same:
“We still care about where data comes from. We still care about how it gets transformed and how it moves, and we still care about how it ends up. We still need to know who is using it, and why, and what for. Those things don’t change.”
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