As data is more and more necessary to drive business, data itself is becoming a hot commodity. In fact, the value of your company is increasingly bound to the value of your data. As an example, Pinterest is a free service, but it’s become an incredible storehouse of information about what people like, the way they define those interests, and the connections they perceive between one object and another. For this reason, Pinterest is currently valued at over $10 billion.
If, on the other hand, you’re not a company that generates data, then you need to procure it. But opportunities to do so are widespread; the Big Data as a Service industry is booming, and the Internet of Things is increasing the amount of data available at an exponential rate. In this new landscape, humans have been described as individual sensors feeding data into a new, global nervous system. Whether you’re generating data, acting on it, or both, the success of your company rises or falls on data.
How do you keep your competitive edge in a market where data’s available to anyone who can pay for it?
The truth is, having a lot of data doesn’t mean a thing. The key to really great analytics is insight. And that’s where a lot of organizations miss the mark. What makes big data so transformative is the potential it creates to draw connections in new and surprising ways. So, when you analyze big data, you don’t want to attack it with teams that have preconceived notions of what they’re looking for and what they’re planning to do with it. Instead, take a hard look at whether you’re employing outside-the-box thinkers. After all, as Albert Einstein said, “Problems cannot be solved with the same mindset that created them.” In short, to make the most of your data, you need creative people on your team.
This perspective may seem at odds with the idea of “data” as you know it. But foregone conclusions aren’t even the worst problem with creating “talent silos” when it comes to your data. Uncertainty about what to do with all that information can lead to hesitance, to over-reliance on crunching data before taking action. Tell a creative what problem you’re trying to solve, and you might be surprised by how quickly they cut to the chase.
True creatives will have unexpected takes on who has the data you need, or wants the data you have. They’ll exploit the IoT, gleaning intel from the way people use objects that are, on the surface, only tangentially related to your field. And they’ll think of new ways to use that information to drive your business forward. The companies that know this are progressing in leaps and bounds, and they’re quickly populating, and even creating, new market niches that less forward-thinking companies are overlooking.
People are comparing data to oil these days, or to water. If you’re eager to treat data like the commodity it is, your best move is to harness a full spectrum of talent.