How can businesses stay agile and competitive in the face of massive data volumes, exponentially increasing complexity, and the growing need for real-time answers, decisions, and responses? In his new book The Sentient Enterprise, technologist and visionary Oliver Ratzesberger, along with co-author Mohanbir Sawhney, outlines a revolutionary methodology for aligning data, systems, and people within the organization to make agility and decision-making scalable commodities.
In this edition of FastForward, Oliver provides an overview of this methodology and explains why a new approach is so needed for businesses today.
“Companies are looking for a roadmap,” Oliver explains. “There are so many technologies to choose from that executives struggle even to start. Drowning in technical decision-making, these leaders lack the focus and time they need to paint a multi-year roadmap for getting the enterprise to operational excellence.
“The Sentient Enterprise is like a North Star for companies, showing them where they can take their businesses,” he continues. “It outlines a five-stage maturity model that focuses not on bits and bytes, but rather on the core capabilities businesses need to scale agility and decision-making.”
The core understanding the new model begins with some very simple observations. An enterprise is made up of people. Each individual within the organization is a sentient being. As humans we share in some common behaviors and tendencies: we listen; we think; we interact, we learn. These traits are critical to business success, and yet they are enormously difficult to scale. They do not transfer easily from the individual to the group.
“The problem is that the more of us you put together in a company, the less we do those things,” says Oliver.
In other words, an enterprise made up of hundreds or thousands of sentient beings fundamentally lacks the ability to listen, to think, and to make decisions. It is quite a paradox.
It was interest in this paradox that brought Oliver, Chief Product Officer for Teradata, together with his collaborator, Mohanbir Sawhney of the Kellogg School of Management. An initial meeting between the two in 2013 led to an extended conversation in which they began to sketch out the core capabilities that make up the model–quickly coming to the realization that what they were describing was the basic blueprint for a sentient enterprise.
In the podcast, Oliver cites several diverse examples of companies already achieving success with the Sentient Enterprise methodology, including Volvo, Blizzard Entertainment, and the San Francisco Giants. And he predicts that there are many more such stories to come.
“Agility is a continuous improvement process. Companies must expect a lot more of themselves than they have before, and align themselves with ever-increasing velocity.
“That's the key not only to being a survivor, but to redefining your industry.”