The Importance of Maintaining A Competitive Advantage
Technology is evolving faster than ever before. Companies that embrace emerging technology have the opportunity to shape its evolution and apply it in ways that create a significant competitive advantage. Those who wait are forced to adopt to change after the fact, most often not on their own terms.
When I set out to create Oiga Technologies, my goal was quite simply to create a competitive advantage for our customers through the deployment of state-of-the-art technology. But what does it mean to have a competitive advantage in the marketplace?
A competitive advantage means having knowledge or knowhow that is superior to the competition. In 2018, that is most often manifested through the use of Big Data analytics and machine learning algorithms. Even more recently, it has also meant deploying public or private blockchain ledgers for our customers to protect data and ensure that it is timestamped and immutable.
Unfortunately, competitive advantages only last so long. Within years, or perhaps even months, a competitive advantage becomes the industry norm. Agile companies are always seeking the next competitive advantage while the competition is still working to adopt.
As an example, starting in 2010 the publishing industry went through a digital revolution. Digital content was the catalyst for the creation of new products, and therefore new revenue. Through the use of NOSQL databases and content management systems, publishers were able to house their core content in XML, transforming it dynamically into formats for print or digital publishing, including EPUB for eBooks. They found ways to sell silos of their content, or to create new products dynamically based upon emerging trends.
Publishers who adapted to the digital revolution early saw a substantial increase in revenue. Those who waited fell behind, found it difficult to adopt, and lost their competitive advantage in the marketplace.
In this series of blog articles, I will discuss some of the technology that is creating competitive advantages for our customers. We will begin with a technology that has become essential to both business intelligence and new product development.
Part 1: Big Data Analytics
In order to deploy Big Data analytics, one must of course first have Big Data. That is one of the principal reasons that Oiga is focused upon the scholarly publishing and healthcare sectors, two industries that would otherwise seem to have very little in common.
Big Data is not only structured content. It is everything that our clients own, including content, content metadata, images, reports, lab tests, scientific experiments and much more.
There is a misnomer, an artifact of the 21st century, that all content must be run through ETLs and must be stored in a common structured format, usually within a relational database, in order to successfully run queries. In fact, the opposite is true. The secret to successful Big Data analytics lies in the realization that clients often do not know ahead of time what questions that they want to ask. They don’t know what they don’t know. The ETLs that force all content into a single unified format are dangerous because they often eliminate valuable attributes within the content that are fundamental to future queries.
In the healthcare sector, we are implementing Big Data analytics to fundamentally change the quality of patient care. We work with hospitals to store longitudinal clinical patient history on private blockchain networks such that the data is secure and immutable. Big Data analytics are then used to proactively identify patient populations that are vulnerable to specific disease states. For example, we can identify patients that are at risk to develop Type 2 Diabetes and help healthcare providers to institute wellness programs to mitigate risk and improve health.
In the scholarly publishing industry, the challenge is different. Journal publishers seek to keep their content not just relevant but on the cutting edge of science. To do so, they need to solicit papers and create conferences that address emerging topics in their industry. Publishers can use algorithms to analyze early manuscripts, pre-published submissions, patent registry data, and a host of other criteria to identify emerging topics and keep themselves ahead of their competitors.
Both of these examples not only improve competitive advantage but increase revenue. In most countries, there are reward mechanisms for hospitals that are able to successfully maintain or improve the health of their patient populations. In the case of publishers, being more relevant is critical to increasing readership and increasing the society’s prestige.