Future of Operations

Use data-driven operations to improve decision-making

The Future of Operations

Guided by digital-first strategies, organizations will become flatter, with a single source of truth as they leverage operational data to optimize and drive better, more timely decision-making, which can be defined as data-driven operations (DDO). With better, more contextualized data, organizations will gain more visibility into operations, empowering employees to make decisions rapidly and confidently with less oversight.

Improving Decision-Making Through Data-Driven Operations

Organizations that build their own technology investment strategy around data-driven operations and its various components will thrive in the face of digital disruption.

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Data-driven operations – the effective management of data, and its increasingly central role in operational decision making – is driving the transformation of operations. The foundational elements of IDC’s new framework comprise:


Organizations must be empowered to respond quickly and effectively to new opportunities and new business imperatives. They must have the data necessary to do timely what-if analyses as well as the processes necessary to support agile decision making.


Organizations must be able to withstand the impact of unforeseen adverse events, such as unplanned equipment failures, supply chain disruptions, unexpected weather events, pandemics, or geopolitical disruption, to name the most prominent ones.


Organizations need to be able to predict how equipment and processes will behave over time.

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The enablers/technologies underpinning data-driven operations fall into three broad buckets: connectivity, cloud, and contextualization. The rapid growth and maturation of these technologies make data-driven operations possible and open the door to autonomous operations.


We are on the cusp of ubiquitous connectivity of the things — most notably assets, equipment, and infrastructure — that make up operations. Equally important, employees are also connected in a way that enables access to all of the data generated by these things. In this age of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), this connectivity is essential to collecting growing volumes of operational data and getting them to where they can be aggregated, managed, and shared with the ultimate goal of making better decisions.


A seamless and powerful platform for sharing data and insights both within the organization and across the extended value chain, Cloud is rapidly emerging as the logical place to aggregate, contextualize, and manage increasingly large volumes of operational data.


Context, in conjunction with connectivity and cloud, is what will provide the technology foundation for data-driven operations. Organizations that frame their objectives in terms of contextualization — as opposed to simply using a particular analytics tool — will vastly improve the success rates of their initiatives.

Operations is — and has always been — about optimizing outputs while simultaneously minimizing risks. For much of the history of operations, these goals have involved significant trade-offs. Data-driven operations opens the door to optimizing operational performance while simultaneously supporting continuous innovation and mitigating risk.

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The data-driven operations journey comprises five stages. The destination – mostly aspirational today – is autonomous operations, but there are significant benefits to effective data management and contextualization along the path. These benefits primarily derive from better and more timely decisions that rely less on human judgement and more on the insights derived from operational data.


Learn more about IDC’s FoX Research

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Research Programs and Custom Solutions

Future of Operations: Research Programs

IDC’s Future of Operations Agenda offers thought leadership and advice on key challenges organizations face when identifying and addressing operations requirements for the digital enterprise.

Future of Operations Core Research programs provide business leaders with the insights and guidance needed to align technology investments with business strategy. Core Research programs include:

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Future of Operations: Custom Solutions

IDC’s Future of Operations research and custom offerings help you position your solutions to solve today’s complex customer challenges.

  • Custom Analytics – Identify opportunities to address customer requirements and challenges by segmenting the market using IDC’s Future of Operations framework
  • Thought Leadership – Amplify your message and become a trusted Future of Operations advisor and solution provider.
  • Business Value – Demonstrate customer and business value of your IT solution.
  • Sales Enablement – Sell more effectively and identify new monetization opportunities in partner ecosystems.

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