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Five Digital Truths Every Executive Must Understand


Code Halos–the digital footprints left by people, organizations and things–are the future. To make the most of the insights they can uncover, however, organizations need to embrace the following truths.

How did Netflix, Amazon, Apple and other powerhouses become industry leaders? The answer is Code Halos, the data generated by the online behaviors of customers, products, employees, processes and organizations. All have become expert at analyzing this data to discover hidden insights and unlock unforeseen opportunities.

Figure 1

While we can't all be the next Amazon, any company that wants to compete in this new era needs to adopt Code Halo thinking and see the world through a digital lens. To get started, here are five basic tenets that will get you well on the way to being a Code Halo hero.

Everything is data and data is everything.

That's not hubris talking – it's literally true. Nearly everything creates data now, even objects as traditionally analog as a toothbrush. The more the world is digitized, including how we work, socialize, play, communicate and transact – indeed, every time a human interacts with a networked machine – the more data and information is generated. It's no wonder that most (if not all) industries are rightfully turning to data and digital technologies for a competitive edge.

Making meaning from data is the new competitive frontier.

Of course, these mounting data volumes are meaningless if they don't lend to a greater understanding of the marketplace or your customers. To do that, you must capture it, catalog it, benchmark it, compare it over time, analyze it, test it and act upon it. Although a challenge, this is what today's most successful companies do to gauge demand more accurately than ever before and supply products and services at the right place, price and time. Meaning‑making is how you make sense of the madness and how you separate signal from noise.

Digitization requires new operations and business models.

This can be a frightening realization for many businesses and a quandary with no easy answers. Just ask industries that have been dramatically transformed, like print journalism or retail. But as the competition increasingly relies on cost‑reducing, speed‑enhancing and quality‑improving technology, the rules will increasingly be changed for how these companies operate and carry out their day‑to‑day processes. When the rules change, you have to reinvent yourself. 
Of course, this is easier for pure digital companies such as Amazon, Google, Facebook and Uber that were born digital and molded by it from their origins. But even traditional businesses and sectors such as travel and hospitality or banking and financial services can realize big – and profitable – changes with the help of Code Halos.

Prediction and prevention transcend compensation.

When asked how he became the greatest hockey player the world has ever seen, Canadian Wayne Gretzky replied, "I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been." Unlike most of us, Gretzky had a gift for seeing the future. That's what made him so good. 
Similarly, Code Halos allow businesses to anticipate previously unforeseen opportunities, as well as avoid costly circumstances. In some ways, they are the closest thing to fortune‑telling that business has ever seen. They help organizations ensure long-term value beyond today's revenues (i.e., where the puck has been) and focus on what's next for customer experience and market differentiation (i.e., where the puck is going).

Data fuels personalized service, which today's consumers demand.

There's a reason that YouTube and selfies exist: In a hyper‑noisy world, they are two of many popular outlets that consumers use to express themselves. This is even more true for people who grew up with controllers and computers in their hands. They demand service with a personal touch. 

Meeting that demand requires understanding and enabling customization. Such personalization extends beyond the products and services you supply, to how, when, where and even why you supply them (e.g., tracking social media activity to plan an individual or mass personalization campaign). This can't be done unless you accept that data is everything, make meaning from relevant data, reinvent your modus operandi and anticipate tomorrow's trending demand.

For more information, visit: Cognizant's Code Halos and latest analytics thinking.

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