Appetite for Disruption: Survey Finds Companies Keen on Fueling Innovation with Big Data

June 16, 2014

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Blowout preventers, or BOPs, are massive machines that sit on the sea floor thousands of feet below the surface and serve as the last line of defense if something in an undersea oil well goes wrong. As a rule of thumb, workers will routinely replace as many as 20 percent of their parts to keep them safe, effectively rebuilding the entire machine every five years.

But drilling contractors Atwood Oceanics and Queiroz Galvão Óleo e Gás (QGOG) will soon start using Big Data to service machinery more intelligently. They’ll deploy a system called SeaLytics BOP to analyze vast amounts of information from sensors on the machines and look for patterns to determine what needs to be fixed and when.

“Telling a customer what to fix after it has failed is relatively easy,” says Bob Judge, director of product management at GE Oil & Gas, which developed the system. “Telling them to fix something before it costs them money is the magic.”

Atwood and QGOG are just two examples of companies using data and machines connected to the Industrial Internet to become more efficient and more competitive. According to the latest results from GE’s Global Innovation Barometer, which were released today, businesses are more willing than ever to embrace Big Data to disrupt their business models.

“There’s been a big shift from anxiety to action,” says Beth Comstock, GE’s chief marketing officer. “Businesses are becoming ‘disruption ready.’”

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The Innovation Barometer is an annual survey of 3,200 top executives from 26 countries. It seeks to better understand how companies plan to innovate and move forward. Where the previous results found paralysis and indecision – so-called “innovation vertigo” – the group now seems ready to embrace openness, create potent innovative partnerships and make their business models “disruption ready.”

The majority of the polled executives said that Big Data and predictive analytics were now critical to innovation. Nearly two-thirds of them said that companies must encourage creative behavior and disrupt their processes more often.

Talent remains a key focus, and most executives in the group now deem data scientists who can mine, process and analyze information to be essential to their companies.

Businesses are also much more willing to cooperate with peers on innovation. This is a big shift from last year, when executives were anxious about the risks associated with collaboration and intellectual property theft.

Despite the willingness to move forward, some 60 percent of those surveyed struggle with defining an effective business model. This is limiting their ability to innovate. Still, many are moving ahead by adopting emerging innovation trends and preparing for unexpected market changes.

Explore the full results on the Innovation Barometer website and take a look at our infographics illustrating the main findings.

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