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The Sentient Enterprise by Thomas H. Davenport, Mohanbir Sawhney, Oliver Ratzesberger

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CHAPTER 1Reimagining the Enterprise

The Stained Glass Bistro in Evanston, Illinois, is a bustling wine bar with impressive wine flights and a one-of-a-kind cheese and charcuterie plate. Nonetheless, your coauthors weren’t paying much attention to the ambience during our dinner there together on November 12, 2013. By then, we were immersed in an animated conversation—begun hours before in Mohan’s office, just a short walk away at the Kellogg School of Management—about the startling evolution now underway for analytics in large enterprises.

Introduced by our mutual friend Mary Gros, we had come together as two veteran technology professionals with decades of experience under our collective belts, trying to chart our industry from two very different perspectives: Mohan as an academic researcher, consultant, and technology company board member; Oliver as a longtime analytics practitioner and executive at major companies like eBay, Sears, and now Teradata Corporation.

As the ideas and the wine continued to flow around the table, we came to realize how our different perspectives were like complementary puzzle pieces that when fit together suddenly painted a clear picture of the journey that a data-driven enterprise needs to undertake. We began to see that rapid developments in technology and the explosion of data are now transforming the very nature of large enterprises—and that maturing analytics capabilities are the key to future survival.

Our insights that cold Tuesday in November ...

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