Data Fest in London: Sysomos Summit


Last Tuesday, I went to the Sysomos Summit in London, a celebration of technology, data science, social media and business. The event was also the place where Meltwater, a leading company in the area of market media monitoring and business intelligence software, announced the acquisition of Sysomos. Jorn Lyseggen, Meltwater’s founder and CEO presented the ideas behind this acquisition, which will help crystallise the company’s new vision: Outside Insight.

I was happily surprised to see the impact of the new digital reality in decision making mentioned in one of Lyseggen’s slides, as this is exactly the key theme of this blog. Actually, Lyseggents wrote a book about this subject, which I’m halfway through reading, and I can say that it is 100% worth reading.

To start, it’s not a book about data only, something you might expect from a company that helps make sense of the abundance of data we have nowadays. It’s about change, decision-making and strategy. It’s very action-oriented as well, and the key thesis of the book is that organisations not only need to have an internal view of data (typically, managed by ERP software) but, fundamentally, should keep permanent sight (and keep all other senses alert) to external factors, such as “online breadcrumbs” that are available online (I also like to call this the “digital footprint”), from varied sources.

The pay off for this attitude is clear: companies acting (instead of reacting) on real time, make smarter decisions and are able to predict, rather than explain, their actions in an ever-changing market.

Very interestingly, as well, was Lysenggen’s mention of Michael Porter’s 5 Force Model. Perhaps as a vindication for detractors that consider that the model is outdated, he showed that the model remains valid as an essential part of strategy analysis and formulation. With the new paradigm proposed by the book, the model is tremendously enriched and its apparent static nature changes completely into a vibrant, real time competitive arena.

The whole-day event included the participation of several other speakers from different areas, and perhaps the most important point shared amongst the presentations was how external data can be a source of competitive advantage (Porter, again). Companies that are integrating data in a way described by Jorn Lysenggen in his book as “fighting preconceived beliefs and breaking through their internal bias” will certainly avoid the kind of tunnel vision or marketing myopia (another classic autor, Levitt) that affected big brands such as Kodak or Blackberry and will survive these hypercompetitive times will less difficulties.

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