Gartner Says Second Half of the Information Age to Focus on Exploitation of Technology and the Information It Processes

Special Report Examines New Opportunities in IT to Seize a Competitive Advantage

STAMFORD, Conn., December 15, 2011 – 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, vice president 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,” Mr. 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,” ( 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.

In the Gartner Special Report, “Seizing Competitive Advantage: New Opportunities in IT” (, Gartner analysts examine the key issues around seizing a new competitive advantage by revitalizing leadership, management and culture, and leveraging “big culture technologies.”

Gartner defines “competitive advantage” as a difference between a company and its competitors that matters to customers. It is one of the two key components of corporate profitability:

  1. Industry structure: This determines the range of profitability of the average competitor and can be very difficult to change.
  2. Competitive advantage: This enables a company to outperform the average competitor.

“The Gartner view of competitive advantage is about leadership � that is, how does an organization gain a leadership position from the tools, capabilities and competencies at its disposal? The focus is not on doing something merely to be competitive, but rather on taking action to be the leader,” said Jorge Lopez, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.

“Competitive advantage cannot be sustained other than by ceaselessly pursuing new ways to compete, and changing one’s culture to match the new needs,” Mr. Lopez said.

Mr. Lopez will provide additional analysis during the Gartner webinar, “Seizing Competitive Advantage: New Opportunities in IT” on January 5 at 9 a.m. EST and noon EST. To register for this complimentary webinar, please visit

About Gartner

Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT) is the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company. Gartner delivers the technology-related insight necessary for its clients to make the right decisions, every day. From CIOs and senior IT leaders in corporations and government agencies, to business leaders in high-tech and telecom enterprises and professional services firms, to technology investors, Gartner is the valuable partner to 60,000 clients in 11,000 distinct organizations. Through the resources of Gartner Research, Gartner Executive Programs, Gartner Consulting and Gartner Events, Gartner works with every client to research, analyze and interpret the business of IT within the context of their individual role. Founded in 1979, Gartner is headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, U.S.A., and has 4,400 associates, including 1,200 research analysts and consultants, and clients in 85 countries. For more information, visit