Many of the companies now racing to unlock the value of their data are undoubtedly being spurred on by the meteoric rise of disruptive brands whose business models are based almost entirely on the smart use of data. The brilliant minds behind these disruptive brands identified the power of data to deliver differentiation and improved services and experiences, even in industries once thought to be commoditised.
The amount of data available is going up all the time, driven by everything from smart phones and energy meters to connected cars, kitchen appliances and wearable devices. The rise of cloud computing has not only exponentially increased the amount of data in circulation, it has also given that data a far great currency by making it easier to collect, share, analyse and interpret.
With so many devices, systems and services connected via the cloud, data now surrounds us and businesses are getting wise to the insights and value they can derive from it, if they know what they are looking for and what role they want the data to perform. That is an important point. Data on its own is just the raw material. It needs the right people, using the right tools to unlock its full value.
But used smartly, this wealth of information has changed how organisations operate at a fundamental level. Data is driving breakthroughs, solving problems and inspiring change in business, conservation, entertainment, medicine, politics, science, technology. There is no business or service that cannot gain an edge by understanding more about the data it creates and the data it can acquire.
Take Telefonica. The Spanish telecoms operator has implemented an analytics programme to better understand the usage patterns of its television customers and draws on this insight to offer personalised recommendations for additional content and services. Telefonica has also monetised this in-depth view of customers by opening new revenue streams with content providers and media producers who also want to tailor their own content to the operator’s audience. The returns have been significant and today Telefonica commands 30% of Spain’s lucrative digital media and advertising market.
Businesses have turned to analytics to not only make money, but to protect money, using data to help identify fraud. Augmenting traditional methods of identifying fraud, which could be time consuming and labour intensive, with data-driven detection that draws on internal sources such as pattern recognition within claims data, to external sources such as social media, businesses can quickly and robustly interrogate claims, reducing both fraud and false-positives that could offend honest customers.
But every success story about how data is transforming businesses and experiences is a triumph not only of data, but of the people and machines who turn it into valuable insights. Data is powering innovation at the point where human ingenuity meets modern technology. It is the balance of these three forces that will distinguish the data-driven organizations shaping our world.