(HT to Geoff for inspiring this post during our conversation last week)

Years ago when I would meet with a new vendor or look at a new tool, the reporting and the dashboards were very important.  We used the graphs and the visualization internally to assist with telling our story to key stakeholders.  Unfortunately for most vendors today, that’s not enough to me.

Today, data is the most important part of the story.  I want to know the in and the out of every tool.  Black box theories or algorithms do not help me, they only make me question the capabilities more.  I understand there are always proprietary methods at play, but how do I know that you are not stretching your capabilities beyond reality? Every tool on the market offers a dashboard, a separate log-in, a proprietary best-in-class sentiment analysis, etc.  What we really need, is the data.

The API is the lifeblood of the enterprise of tomorrow and I think far too many vendors (and even Agencies) underestimate this fact.  In order to see a shift and accelerate knowledge faster in the enterprise, we will need the data plugged in as fast as we can acquire it.  Sending decks, pdf files or csv or xcel files will not be sufficient.  Even from agencies, the data should come through as fast as possible so we can optimize and take advantage of all available opportunities.

It will also not be enough for IT managers or enterprise intelligence teams to connect to the native sources all the time.  Yes, an enterprise can plug into Facebook and draw the data – but do they have the experience to know when their data is delayed or bad? Does an enterprise brand have someone parked on the front lawn of Facebook to get hints about future developments or read the tea leaves for future API changes? Most likely not.

Dashboarding tools like Pentaho have started cropping up and you will see more of them in the future.  Large enterprise brands will migrate to centralizing their business intelligence over time.  If you are a vendor or agency, consider what you are doing to make the data available and be prepared to offer it up through an API in the future.  If you are a brand, consider the impact of changing the speed of your understanding of the digital space.  The future is here. Plug it in.





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