Data is being produced as we drive, run, walk, sleep, when we’re at home, at work, and even when we’re doing nothing. It has become so critical in our daily lives that sometimes we are unaware of how we use it. We have apps to tell us the weather forecast, smart homes and heaters to keep things at optimal levels, self-driving cars, smart transportation, and products that learn from us and teach us new ways of doing things, such as sensors in golf clubs that monitor and offer tips for improvement. We have health monitors, fitness trackers, and smart appliances that notify the manufacturers if a fault is present before we even know of it. And there is an industry of businesses that buy and sell data, with some companies being set up just to harvest it.
We live in a culture of ‘now’ where people don’t want to wait. Gone are the days where you could play a computer game that took an hour to load – people would switch off after about 40 seconds now. Being able to grab someone’s attention and provide information in real-time becomes a competitive edge. With the world open to everyone and his dog, competition is rife. So how do you stand out above everyone else? This is where the power of data comes into play. Being able to predict or provide that real-time thing puts you in the driving seat. There’s no time to waste on understanding and analysing the past anymore – you need to be on the front foot making real-time decisions that can make or break your business, and this means being a lean, mean, agile machine.
Data can be used to grab your attention. Take YouTube for example. One of their goals might be to make you watch as many videos as they can while slipping in adverts between clips and therefore making more advertising revenue. Millions of AI bots have been created and tested to understand your behaviour, what you like and what you don’t like, to be able to select the next video. Successful bots will keep you hooked for longer.
Providing information in real-time will give you a competitive edge. Let’s take the example of being able to create dynamic pricing on the fly. This is how the airline ticket industry works, by looking at supply and demand. What is the maximum amount you are willing to spend versus the current demand, and how much can the business get away with? Sticking with the airline theme, Rolls Royce has changed and adapted over the years, from building and selling plane engines to now leasing those engines while creating a new service to actively monitor and maintain them in real-time via all the datapoints introduced during manufacturing. This not only created a new revenue stream but also brought their customers closer to the business. Other examples include real-time traffic updates, journey alerts and monitoring of systems or products. Some companies have, like Rolls Royce, created products that talk back to them to tell them of a fault before the customer is even aware – now that’s customer service.
Typically, most companies will use data to create hindsight and insight, where they are spending money to save money. But more and more are using data to create foresight, and these businesses are typically spending money to make money.
In short, with data, comes information, with information, comes knowledge, and with knowledge, you have the advantage.