Digital Nervous Systems in 2014

With the scalable power of cloud computing and the capabilities of Big Data, we are closer than ever to having the kind of Digital Nervous System that Bill Gates described in his 1999 book Business at the Speed of Thought.

In terms of our own nervous system; nerve endings send messages to our brain regarding touch, feel, temperature, hunger, or taste. Typically these messages trigger visceral reactions such as saliva production, increase in heart rate, widened pupils or swallowing.

When the same concept is applied to the enterprise it is clear that we require the ability to sense (the nerve ending), the ability to process that sense into action and the means of reacting.

Whilst the number of systems that provide elements of the nerve end function exist, it’s still not easy to process all of the data holistically. For example this blog utilise Google Analytics alerts to inform me if traffic drops below 50% of last week’s traffic. I also receive email notifications when an order is placed.

These two examples are small compared to the potential nerve endings within an enterprise. There will be server load data, web analytics, customer data, net promoter scores, revenue, call centre wait times, inbound calls and social network listening.

Whilst there is a temptation to create more nerve endings, the real challenge is in creating the rules to interpret the data and the playbook on how to deal with the alerts that come.

Until you know how to react to the nerve ending, the collection of data is somewhat redundant. Perhaps its time to start with small data

David Sealey is a trusted adviser to senior executives on getting the most from their investment in digital and data. David created Storm81 as a place to share his passion for business, digital technologies, multichannel marketing and everything else around these topics.

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