STAMFORD, USA: The Information Age is an 80 year wave of economic and societal change that is in its second half, where business value comes from exploitation of technology rather than from installation, according to Gartner Inc.
"In the first half of the Information Age, the primary focus was the technology itself; this is where great fortunes were made by companies like IBM and Microsoft," said Mark Raskino, VP and Gartner Fellow. "In this period, the majority of companies that gained competitive advantage did so by differential access to the technology from these providers — for example, by having more capital to invest in it or better skills at installing it in their businesses.
"In the second half of the age, as technology becomes ubiquitous, consumerized, cheaper and more equally available to all, the focus for differentiation moves to exploitation of the technology and to the information it processes," Raskino said. "It is already noticeable that the great fortunes of the second half of the age are being made by companies like Google and Facebook, which are not traditional makers of technology. In this period, the majority of companies that enjoy competitive advantage will gain it from a differential ability to see and exploit the opportunities of new kinds of information."
In the report, "Strategic Information Management for Competitive Advantage," (http://www.gartner.com/resId=1851616) Gartner identified four particular types of generally useful information likely to dominate competition this decade, in the way that process information and customer information did in the past 15 years:
* Location information, which is now maturing in availability, will offer opportunities to better optimize the utilization of almost any movable physical asset (human or inanimate) in almost any business.
* Sustainability information will be vital in advancing business models in industries that are adapting to the realities of a finite Earth meeting the demands of massive, consumerizing emerging markets.
* DNA information and the rapidly falling cost of obtaining it will obviously be critical to innovation and productivity leaps in agriculture, medical care and pharmaceuticals, but it will also impact insurance and other sectors.
* Social graph information will help companies "X-ray" and understand organization, team design, culture and other factors impacting knowledge worker productivity, yielding valuable insights to advance the intellectual service economy the way time and motion study did for manufacturing in the 20th century.
* Beyond these, context, gesture, the live state of everyday objects (Internet of Things), inherent identity (untagged, image-recognition-based), human emotional state and even brain response to stimuli are all new types of information that are at the radar's edge or are starting to be brought into play within businesses.