We hear increasingly about “the data-driven enterprise”. That is, where information about the business, about customers, about products, about suppliers, about competitors and even about the world around us is regarded as more and more critical to decision making by executives from line of business managers to chief executives.
This is all well and good but it represents a paradigm shift. Thirty five years ago, before the advent of applications such as manufacturing resource planning (MRP) systems, IT was largely data-driven, principally because there was nothing else. However, as packaged application suites became more popular this shifted towards a focus on applications and this accelerated still further with the introduction of enterprise resource planning (ERP) and, more recently, customer relationship management (CRM) systems. This has been the state of affairs for approximately three decades. However, the move towards the data-driven enterprise is reversing this focus. Moreover, whereas data in the seventies was largely an IT issue, it is now a business issue with IT providing the platform and tools that allow the business to use that data.