When an IBM computer successfully took on human Jeopardy! players in 2011, it was an achievement every bit as important as Deep Blue’s defeat of chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1997. More impressive, in fact, because, whilst winning at chess is essentially a mathematical challenge (albeit a massively daunting one), winning at Jeopardy! requires cognitive leaps based on huge volumes of unstructured data.

Computers have always been good at maths; now Cognitive computing is able to unlock the potential in all data - internal, external, structured, unstructured, voice, and visual –and make it work together. Enterprises can make better operational decisions, understand customer wants and needs, communicate in real time, and optimise business processes –infused with the cognitive ability to understand, reason, and learn.

Analytics and Business Intelligence (BI) are about providing data-driven insight, foresight and new knowledge via deep understanding of trending, seasonality, patterning and historical, current and predictive data about customer and enterprise. Effective Analytics can only flourish if its value can be liberated from organisational and technical silos that are outdated, outmoded or lost in the wider business environment. To deliver on its promise, Analytics and BI require a strategy which at its heart is business-centric and the competence itself has to support more than just a technological focus: organisations need to combine analytic, IT and business skills.

The international terms generally used to encapsulate the concept of “competence” in the area of analytics are Business Intelligence Competence Centre (BICC) or Analytics Centre of Excellence (ACE). This approach brings together a number of components, resources, approaches, technical strategies and governance structures to support the growth, promotion, “selling” and effective management of business intelligence, including its projects and programmes. The combined insight and depth of Analytics and BI knowledge can be brought together to operate an effective new BICC, ACE, Cognitive Competence and Cognitive Innovation Centres too - new architectures for knowledge.

With deep experience in the analysis, definition and development of BICCs and the concepts around BI and Analytics Competence, IBM's Digital Insight Analytics Practice is ideally placed to help and support your enterprise through your own journey towards enhancing, increasing and developing your own business intelligence analytics knowledge and agility, moving you towards driving your marketplace based on deep customer, operational and organisation insight.

Financial services suppliers, for instance, are under huge pressure to find new ways to retain and grow their customer base, and many realise that the secret lies within the data that defines those very customers. Trigger marketing – timing communications to coincide with customer behaviour rather than the calendar – can be hugely powerful for boosting impact and building customer loyalty. The challenge is in understanding that behaviour and how to react to it.