Companies live on information. Simply keeping an eye on general operations – making sure the bills are paid, supplies are stocked, employees are credited and customers settle their invoices – will govern a company’s vitality. Information also divine destiny: companies thrive when they have the right intelligence to improve their existing income streams and create new ones. In the technology world, we like to say that companies should become data-driven. But in truth companies have always been data driven – the ones that remain in business, that is.
So, let us dispel the myth. Your company is a data-driven organisation. Only 20 percent of data reside on the Internet. The vast majority lives inside company networks. Yet our view of this is skewed, because new generation of companies – the Googles, Amazons, Teslas and Baidus – revel in their data. They exploit the richness it hides, turning them from technology hotshots to multinational titans.
It is tempting to think those are different, but in truth most companies have bounties of data worth exploiting. Yet data remains one of the most underutilised resources in modern companies. Less than a fifth of businesses have any kind of data strategy. Even though they collect a lot of information, little of that gets converted into insight.
If you can measure it, you can improve it. Operational efficiencies can help feed investment back into the business. But do not stop there. Effective big data analytics can augment the ability of decisionmakers to cast wider nets, spot new opportunities, drive innovation and refine existing winners in the organisation. They help identify the nuances of the company, bringing you closer to customers. This leads to better retention, cross-selling opportunities and discovering new revenue streams.
Once companies start taking action with these insights, they open the door to the Multiplier Effect. This has two tangible benefits. The first is that the financial gains from the insights can be reinvested with less risk into the company, leading to more growth. The second is that as data is exploited for these insights, your company will grow to better understand its potential. New use-cases for data will emerge, including the use of data as a currency with non-competing businesses.
But none of these possibilities will exist without investing in the underlying technology. The new paradigm of abundant data – big data – plays on a new field of high-speed, scaling systems and networks. These help draw meaning from the stockpiles, finding a signal among the noise.
Business has always thrived on information and even used it as a currency. It better informs our intuition and reinforces our instincts. Good companies have always been data-driven companies. The difference today is the sheer volume of data, the incredibly potential it hides and the fantastic tools that allow us to dive in and bring up pearls.
Above all, data is no longer just a resource. It is as valuable as the numbers on the company’s balance sheet. This creates a whole new future of exciting possibilities. Big Data provides a wealth of opportunity and potential, but for the time being it remains an immensely untapped, valuable asset. If we can help realise its fundamental value and learn to extract it and use it, we can all reap its greatest rewards.