Data Is the ‘Next Natural Resource,’ Says IBM’s CEO

Data's use and analysis are becoming the big differentiators for modern organizations. That's the word from IBM CEO Ginni Rometty.

Speaking last Thursday at an event sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations, Rometty described data as the "next natural resource," and said it would be the determining factor in decision-making, value creation and value delivery for businesses and governmental agencies.

She pointed out that business decisions are now often made on the basis of the decider's perspective, even on scientific matters, and that predictive analysis is beginning to replace these kind of "gut instincts."

Memphis Police and Data

Analysis, particularly predictive analysis, of Big Data is a big emphasis at IBM, as the technology giant assists organizations in dealing with the avalanche of data from buyer interactions, sensors, Internet traffic, financial transactions, environmental conditions, macro-economics, social networks and a variety of other data streams. The company recently increased its forecast of revenue from data analytics to $20 billion from the previous target of $16 billion -- and that figure was $10 billion when the target was first established in 2010.

Discerning patterns in Big Data is a key competitive advantage, not only among rival businesses but in the fight against crime. Rometty pointed to the utilization of IBM Criminal Reduction Utilizing Statistical History software analytics for the Memphis, Tenn., Police Department. That analysis helped to discover a hidden connection between outdoor pay phones and rapes. By moving the pay phones indoors, rape incidents were reduced by nearly one-third.

The value of data is also inherent in the rise of social networking tools within businesses, Rometty said. She described the social network as "the new production line in a company," and said that sharing information will be the key value of a knowledge worker, not "what they know." This variability in the informational value of such...

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