IT Foresight

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In companies around the world, the transition to an almost fully digitized business environment is happening with remarkable speed. Virtually every large corporation is gathering huge amounts of data on key elements of its operations and crunching that data with advanced analytical software. Digital fabrication is transforming manufacturing processes, and the “Internet of things” is connecting sensors that monitor everything from toothbrushes and thermostats to giant industrial turbines. The companies at the forefront of these technology industry trends have already gained a competitive edge over their slower rivals. A key factor has been the move to cloud computing. And as cloud computing becomes ubiquitous, it is also transforming how companies build and manage the information technology they need to run their businesses. This transition affects just about every aspect of the ICT industry. In this year’s Strategy& ICT 50, we analyze and rank the influence and demonstrated business success of the 50 largest publicly held companies that supply digitization-related products, services, and infrastructure to enterprises, governments, and other organizations around the world. The results reveal several widespread changes in the industry this year.
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Businesses around the world are looking to gain an edge in the race to digitize — to seamlessly incorporate new computing, communications, and collaboration technologies; to streamline their operations; and to connect more closely with customers, suppliers, and partners. To do so, they must look to the continually evolving ecosystem of hardware, software, IT services, and telecom companies. These sectors provide the products and services that make digitization possible. The goal of the second annual Strategy& Global ICT 50 study is to analyze the top companies in the digitization ecosystem, to detect which ones are prospering and which are not, and to provide some guidance about why. This year, we added a new perspective on the strategic direction of these companies. Every company in every industry has its own market value proposition: a way to play that represents the way it chooses to create value in the market, ideally matched with its strongest capabilities. Companies’ ways to play can be grouped according to the basic foundational approach they take. By classifying each of the ICT 50 as one or more of these “puretones,” we were able to determine which value propositions seem most advantaged in the market.

In last month's issue

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In this new era of big data analytics, companies can sometimes fall into the trap of thinking they can’t gather any useful data without investing a large amount of money and time into new technology and analytical methods. But our work has found that it’s better to have some information than none — and that you’d be a fool to disregard it just because it fell short of being definitive. Many companies, if not most of them, work in relatively sparse data environments: in emerging markets, B-to-B industries, highly specialized or concentrated markets, and the like. These companies have to be content with what we call "little data." For companies operating without complete or clean market data, the evolution towards analytics means a concerted effort to make better use of the data that is available to them (imperfect as it may be) or to use low cost ways to create new data.