There are already so many books about big data on the market. That’s why, when management professor Mohan Sawhney and I decided to write The Sentient Enterprise, it wasn’t to fill more shelf space – it was to fill a void: We wrote our book for the same reason you’d create a road map for a highway that somebody’s already busy racing along at top speed.

Such is the reality for organizations being disrupted today by big data: That highway is the ongoing digital transformation. And the driver is you – the executive – racing into the unknown with little room for error and no time to lose on a data-driven journey that rewards agility and runs mediocrity off the road.

Under these conditions, you can’t afford a road map – or a book – that gets distracted by scenery or tangents. That’s why The Sentient Enterprise goes straight to the heart of the urgent challenge facing most large businesses today: As the digital age forces every organization to undergo a transformation through technologies like artificial intelligence and cloud computing, The Sentient Enterprise is a blueprint for the powerful analytics capabilities needed to pull off that transformation at scale.

The #SentientEnterprise is a blueprint for the powerful analytics capabilities needed to pull off transformation at scale.

My road map analogy, but the way, was inspired by what the CIO of a large global car manufacturer told me recently when I discussed the concept of The Sentient Enterprise with him in a half-day session. “You have just given me my roadmap for the next 7+ years,” he said.

A Path for Action…TODAY

The Sentient Enterprise is indeed a bold vision into the future of analytics, automation and AI in an increasingly data-centric world. Executives must act today if they’re going to survive what the data will demand of them tomorrow. Most urgently, they need to harvest insights lightning fast and at scale; they need seamless collaboration across a data-literate workforce; and they must have decision-making so proactive and automated that the organization approaches an end-state of self-awareness and even “sentience.”

We built this book and the capability framework around The Sentient Enterprise to stay laser focused on that end-state – our North Star destination – of having the company act as a single organism. And like all good road maps, we chart the most efficient and practical steps for getting there. The path to maturation involves a revolutionary method for preserving the granular agility of data, even as increasingly complicated analytic processes get applied to such data.

We take the reader on a layered, five-stage journey through advanced “platforms” of capabilities: the Agile Data Platform, Behavioral Data Platform, Collaborative Ideation Platform, Analytical Application Platform and Autonomous Decisioning Platform. As we move through these platforms, we are building a more data-literate culture and breaking down historic barriers to business agility – including organizational silos, data duplication and errors and broken processes – that plague many legacy technologies and even newer architectures that mismanage analytic capabilities.

A Radical Transformation of People, Processes and Technology

With this layered, five-stage journey through progressively more advanced platforms of capabilities, The Sentient Enterprise creates agile enterprises that intuitively connect people, processes, data and outcomes. Keep in mind that by “platform,” we don’t imply a specific hardware or software platform, but rather a realized organizational capability made up of people, processes and technology working seamlessly together.

It’s been a long and enlightening road since Mohan and I first shared our mutual perspectives to develop The Sentient Enterprise concept in 2013, at a dinner meeting near his offices at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. We’ve since refined the model and tied it to real-world use cases from companies like Wells Fargo, Verizon, Dell, Siemens and General Motors, just to name a few. So why take things even further by writing a whole book? Why spend these past several years researching, writing and interviewing leading experts on the forefront of enterprise analytics?

The answer is we wanted to put concepts of data agility in the hands not just of top executives, but any business user who interacts with data and wants to improve that interaction. Innovation happens wherever there are the insights, tools and the motivation to make things better. Our book seeks to put all three – insights, tools and motivation – into the hands of as many people as possible. You don’t have to be an organizational leader, in other words, to be an innovator.

Think of The Sentient Enterprise is a lens or framework that helps make sense of both the analytics challenges and remedies amid a big data “Mount Everest.” The Sentient Enterprise is your toolkit and tactical grid overlaid onto that map of the mountain – something you keep returning to for reference as you chart your course and plan your ascent. And as you do that, check in with us at and to keep us posted on your progress #SentientEnterprise! The book is available to purchase in many stores – you can get a copy here.

Oliver Ratzesberger

Oliver Ratzesberger is an accomplished practitioner, thought leader and popular speaker on using data and analytics to create competitive advantage – known as his Sentient Enterprise vision. Oliver Ratzesberger is chief operating officer for Teradata, reporting to Vic Lund.

Oliver leads Teradata’s world-class research and development organization and provides strategic direction for all research and development related to Teradata Database, integrated data warehousing, big data analytics, and associated solutions.

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