Transitioning Data from Byproduct to Business Asset

The Virtuous Data Cycle
The Virtuous Data Cycle

Just watch: Someday a brilliant person will invent a way to capture exhaust from tailpipes and smokestacks and convert it into energy. It will be a virtuous circle that solves a host of problems and changes our point of view from exhaust as a byproduct to exhaust as an asset. That change is likely a few years away.

Luckily, in the technology ecosystem such a virtuous circle has already taken hold. It’s been common for businesses to view data as exhaust; it’s the byproduct that gets churned out by a company’s different operational systems. But today, more and more businesses see data as a valuable asset that can fuel growth, efficiencies and innovation.

Companies with a more mature and enlightened view of data recognize it as an asset that is as important as customers, staff, facilities and R&D investments. Adopting this perspective can have a profound effect on the organization, arming it with the information and insight to make better business decisions and deliver exceptional customer service.

Under the right conditions, data offers an unrivaled ability to optimize a company’s bottom line. From supply chain and selling processes to expense control, well-managed data culled from these processes can dramatically boost efficiency. Often underestimated, a mature view of data can also drive the topline by not only powering profitable refinements to the existing corporate processes, systems and lines of business, but also identifying new opportunities for revenue and lines of business.

An evolved data perspective empowers companies to look beyond the original source of data to see new opportunities and insights for the business. Take retail as an example, a fiercely competitive arena where companies who were quick to take advantage of online commerce and data have quickly dominated the field. These companies moved beyond data as a means to manage inventory, transactions and delivery. It is now the primary tool for lead generation and cross selling. It is now possible, by managing corporate data and integrating third-party data, for retailers to identify when your household members are celebrating birthdays—then prompt you to consider gifts appropriate for their demographic.

The rapidly growing IoT market offers a different opportunity to realize the business value of data. Industrial environments, such as wind farms, are ripe with sensors that collect staggering amounts of data from their turbines. Properly managing the data, and ensuring its quality, presents an opportunity to increase efficiency and identify functional problems. Intelligent analytics can further power a shift from reactive to proactive decision making by predicting the future behavior of equipment that is incredibly expensive to build and maintain. Data allows companies to manage costs over a longer time horizon and ensure a continuous revenue stream.

The virtuous circle in the technology world that recognizes data as an asset with substantial value—to the bottom line and the topline—is a massive evolution for our business culture.

Note: Originally published on Computerworld.