Data, data, everywhere. It’s easy to forget what the point of it all is. Yet, you can’t ignore it. It’s not going away. In fact, it’s only growing in size. And it’s about to get so big, you won’t be able to escape it. You’re going to need to deal with it. Now. In this article, we explore what it is, what it’s for and what you should be doing with it.
So, what is data? Facts and statistics collected together for reference or analysis. It’s a simple principle with an extraordinarily complex application. Although not a new concept, the ‘digital age’ has given data a seat at the boardroom table, with many businesses investing millions in ‘data’ and their ability to collect, extract and understand it.
However, the talent gap in data science is predicted to reach 140,000 in the US alone by 2018. Add in the relentless production of billions of data points each second by a multitude of sources, people and things, data is not only becoming a big opportunity but also a gigantic challenge.
In the digital age, data is the fuel which is powering the technological revolution. However, unlike it’s natural resource-based counterparts, the relationship is symbiotic. So, while the digital age is fuelled by data, the digital age is also creating data – same game, new rules.
Ever wondered why some new businesses that are making losses are sold for multi-million pound sums? Or why venture capitalists invest in start-ups with a less then prosperous cash-flow? The answer is simple: data. Data has and will continue to become one of the most precious commodities of the digital age, leading some to compare its value to labour and capital. But why? If harnessed it can drive a number of unparalleled advantages:
Bigger is usually better. But only if you know what to do with it. In the case of data, never has a truer word been spoken. Data has gotten really big. Gigantic in fact. For the very first time, the prevalence of technology makes almost everything quantifiable, trackable and measurable. As a result, this generates a colossal amount of uninterrupted data points every millisecond, stretching across internal operations, business performance, consumer behaviour, and market and competitor trends.
The good news? It’s about to go from gigantic to super-colossal. With the impending consumer uptake of the Internet of Things and virtual and augmented reality looming, the availability and complexity of such data is about to increase in a manner never seen before –due to the fact that even more of people’s activities will occur online.
It’s predicted that data points will evolve to multi-faceted events fuelling the ability to create rich, multi-dimensional consumer profiling, way beyond the classical demographic and socioeconomic frameworks of late.
But this isn’t just about consumers. Data will facilitate the creation of new algorithmic-based operating models touching everything from HR to logistics. This will create new markets, and transform the way we do business both on and offline.
The result? Comprehensive, predictive, data-driven learning business models and organisations, exposing new opportunities and challenges for both business and the consumer.
However, with great opportunities come great challenges. Here are the top five we’ve identified:
As with any precious commodity, many unlawful pursuits have been enlisted to extract data from users, customers and consumers. Historically, the regulation surrounding data, how it’s kept and who can buy and sell it (in the digital context particularly) has been poor. This leads to a barrage of data abuse and proliferation of shady data-related companies.
Data legislation is moving up the political agenda and bringing with it laws and measures to better protect the consumer. Progressive businesses don’t just see the value in having data, but also in protecting it and using it to deliver an enhanced consumer experience. Delivering the right message at the right time, driving value for both the business and the consumer.
So, what should you do with data?
We have talked a lot about data. But let’s be honest. It’s totally useless. Irrelevant some may say.
The only thing that matters, however, is INSIGHT.
Collecting, storing and maintaining data in a manner which ensures data integrity, lawfulness and usability is a cornerstone for the learning organisation of the future.
However, such activities are merely hygiene factors. The true value of data is in the creation of compelling, relevant, precise insights in a timely manner which empowers businesses to deliver a superior product, service or experience to their consumers – better and faster than their competition.
It’s about using data to drive transparency. To create an organisation which learns and evolves through testing and learning in a lean and agile manner. It’s about empowering every single person within an organisation to have an unparalleled level of clarity which drives excellence in their discipline. It’s about delivering consumer utility to a level never seen before.
The consequence? When used correctly, to fuel insight, data will deliver a ton of value. To your business, your shareholders and most importantly of all, your consumers.