Big Data: do you want to be a Zebra?


Paul Gittins

April 1, 2015

Have you ever seen a zebra being hunted? When they are attacked they will run.  Their predators – lions and leopards  will not target the zebra at the front of the pack. The ones at the back or the young ones are easy prey.  But often they target the middle of the pack, going after the center of the group*. 

The analogy, zebras and savannah aside, from what we found in our recent study – Big & Fast Data: The Rise of Insight-Driven Business, was that disruption is here and here to stay, enabled by Big Data.
I want to look at a few critical dimensions, the messages I took away and some pragmatic steps:
“64% of respondents said that big data is changing traditional business boundaries and enabling non-traditional providers to move into their industry. Companies report a significant level of disruption from new competitors moving into their industry from adjacent industries (27%)…”
Often competitive research looks at a narrowly defined industry sector and does not consider parallel sectors as a threat.

  • – Do you know who your competition is today?
  • – Are you focused on your peers or looking broadly cross-sector?
  • – Are you considering your wider ecosystem of suppliers and partners, looking across your value supply chain?
  • – Who is emerging and disrupting in other countries? This can give you insight into your opportunities…

“…and over half (53%) expect to face increased competition from start-ups enabled by data…”

  • – Who are the startups in your sector?
  • – What data can they access?
  • – Who is investing in them? Service providers and technology companies are investing in their data ecosystem – whether they are software or services focused. Follow the market investments as a lead indicator for how data in your industry will be monetized – and how it will affect you.

More broadly: do you understand the art of the possible today in your sector?
Call to action:

  1. Explore and listen; be the observer on safari – visit trade events for parallel industries, different countries.
  2. Make it a mission to understand the art of the possible and avoid a direct peer comparison.
  3. Be collaborative, but don’t give away secrets.  This is another example of a co-opetition environment – competitive + cooperative, depending on the business outcomes desired. 

In closing, and back to the savannah, you don’t want to become a zebra in business. Increased pace and agility is the only thing that will get a zebra from the back or middle to the front of the pack.  The middle of the pack surrounded by equally performing competitors isn’t the safe haven.
* I am not a wildlife expert; this may or may not be true.

Note: This is the personal view of the author and does not reflect the views of Capgemini or its affiliates. Check out the full article here.

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