Companies know they can gain valuable insights by analyzing the data they generate from their operations. But internally generated information can leave gaps, and companies are increasingly moving to incorporate new, nontraditional, and external sources of data into their analyses. This data can include almost anything, from historical demographic and weather data to satellite imagery and private company information.

Companies increasingly operate as part of networks consisting of business partners, such as suppliers, resellers, channel partners, regulators, and other stakeholders. These networks are often globally distributed and potentially affected by economic, political, and/or environmental factors. Analyzing external data can help companies see the risks and opportunities that they would miss with inputs limited to data generated from internal operations, customers, and first-tier suppliers. Analyzing external data can illuminate how factors such as shifting consumer behaviors, competitor initiatives, or geopolitical events can affect a business.

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