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The Sentient Enterprise. Why Another Book on Analytics?

The Sentient Enterprise. Why Another Book on Analytics?

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.

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.

Portrait of Oliver Ratzesberger

Oliver Ratzesberger

Mr. Ratzesberger has a proven track record in executive management, as well as 20+ years of experience in analytics, large data processing and software engineering.

Oliver’s journey started with Teradata as a customer, driving innovation on its scalable technology base. His vision of how the technology could be applied to solve complex business problems led to him joining the company. At Teradata, he has been the architect of the strategy and roadmap, aimed at transformation. Under Oliver’s leadership, the company has challenged itself to become a cloud enabled, subscription business with a new flagship product. Teradata’s integrated analytical platform is the fastest growing product in its history, achieving record adoption.

During Oliver’s tenure at Teradata he has held the roles of Chief Operating Officer and Chief Product Officer, overseeing various business units, including go-to-market, product, services and marketing. Prior to Teradata, Oliver worked for both Fortune 500 and early-stage companies, holding positions of increasing responsibility in technology and software development, including leading the expansion of analytics during the early days of eBay.

A pragmatic visionary, Oliver frequently speaks and writes about leveraging data and analytics to improve business outcomes. His book with co-author Professor Mohanbir Sawhney, “The Sentient Enterprise: The Evolution of Decision Making,” was published in 2017 and was named to the Wall Street Journal Best Seller List. Oliver’s vision of the Sentient Enterprise is recognized by customers, analysts and partners as a leading model for bringing agility and analytic power to enterprises operating in a digital world.

Oliver is a graduate of Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program and earned his engineering degree in Electronics and Telecommunications from HTL Steyr in Austria.

He lives in San Diego with his wife and two daughters. View all posts by Oliver Ratzesberger

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