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As a person who has been involved with analytics for a long time, I have historically considered analytics to be a huge differentiator while data was more of a table-stakes enabler. Several trends have come together to make me realize that the equation has been reversed in many cases today.

Data as Enabler, Analytics as Differentiator

Before the era of big data, most enterprises captured similar data in similar ways. Every retailer captured the same transactional history, every bank had the same account activity history, and every telecommunications company had the same call detail records. The data itself was fairly standard and didn’t provide a competitive advantage on its own. By definition, if every competitor has the same data, then the data doesn’t differentiate them from one another.

Given the similarity of data assets, differentiation came from how different organizations analyzed the data that they possessed. In the retail space, for example, Tesco had a well-documented period where it got far ahead of the competition in the realm of customer analytics and reaped huge rewards as a result. Part of what drove the ability to differentiate with analytics was the fact that access to the algorithms needed for analytics was expensive and required specialized tools …

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