No More Wasted Data: Why More Companies Are Turning Data Into Action
Many corporations collect data but don't end up using it to inform business decisions. This has started to shift.
- By Ryan Wilkinson
- February 22, 2021
All in all, 2020 will go down as one of the most challenging and impactful years in history. It will also be known as one of the most transformative, with companies and individuals adjusting quickly to the new normal in both work and play, with a "socially distant" way of life changing how people interact and communicate.
Even amidst the chaos, we saw an influx of existing technologies finding new industry opportunities, such as videoconferencing tools, streaming platforms such as Netflix, telehealth applications, EdTech platforms, and cybersecurity, to name a few. All of these technologies are powered by one fundamental thing, yet this entity isn't being tapped to its full potential by SMBs and enterprises alike.
That thing is data, collected by companies with the intent to inform business decisions and better understand and serve their customers. However, from what I have seen, more than 80 percent of data that businesses generate goes unused. This will drastically change in the next three years, with the majority of the data consumed being put to use.
What's Driving This Trend
Data generation was already a hot topic prior to the COVID-19 pandemic with a projected 59 zettabytes (ZB) of data created, captured, and copied over the last year according to IDC. This trend has only accelerated with the pandemic as companies are fast-tracking digital transformation initiatives. Adding to this, the ongoing health crisis is resulting in the avoidance of face-to-face interactions during the workday, causing digital interactions to increase tenfold. This has created even more data through connectivity tools and applications.
Companies have realized that analyzing this data can help leaders make better-informed decisions rather than relying on gut feeling. Data has become so important to companies' success that according to Gartner, by 2022, 90 percent of today's corporate strategies will unequivocally list information as a critical enterprise asset and analytics as an essential competency. Leading organizations know that in order to drive success in their industry, they have to leverage data and analytics as a competitive differentiator, fueling operational efficiencies and innovation.
Setting Up for Success
Though the majority of data collected by businesses currently goes to waste, there are more tools emerging to help companies unify consumed data, automate insights, and apply machine learning to better leverage data to meet business goals.
First, it's important to take a step back to evaluate the purpose and end goals here. Collecting data for the sake of having it won't get anyone very far. Companies need to identify the issues or opportunities associated with the data collection. In other words, they need to know what they're going to do with every single piece of data collected.
To determine the end goals, start by analyzing and accessing different types of data collected to determine if it was beneficial to the desired outcome or has the potential to be but wasn't leveraged. This will help identify any holes where other data should be tracked. This will also help hone the focus on the more important data sets to integrate and normalize, ultimately making data analysis a more painless process that produces more usable information.
Next, make sure the data is useful -- that it's standardized, integrated across as few tech platforms as possible (i.e., not a different platform for every department or every function), and that the collection of specific data follows company rules and industry regulations.
Finally, use data in new ways. Once your organization has integrated data and technology solutions, the most meaningful insights can often only be found using multidimensional analytics dashboards that take data from two previously siloed functions to understand how pulling a lever in one area affects costs or efficiencies in another.
Using Data to Streamline Business Processes and Lower Costs
One industry that's collecting data and using it efficiently to optimize business processes is the telematics industry. Before the digital transformation era, fleet managers and drivers had to rely on paper forms for vehicle inspections or logging hours of service. Now, many telematics-driven companies are relying on connected operations solutions to collect, unify, and analyze data for a variety of tasks such as improving fuel management, driver safety, optimized routing, systematic compliance, and preventive maintenance.
We have seen fleets with hundreds of assets switch from other out-of-the box telematics solutions, to a more business-focused solution, which allows them to leverage data insights from their connected operations and realize meaningful improvements and costs savings. One such client recently reported saving $800,000 annually in field labor costs, an annual savings of $475,000 in fleet maintenance and repairs, and they've seen compliance with their overdue maintenance reduction initiative go from around 60 percent to 97 percent. It's clear that data contains the answers to an organization's challenges or goals. The question remains whether the organization has the tools to unearth the insights hidden in its data.
Empowering Decision Makers Through Data
The most important piece to the entire data chain is ensuring the right data insights get into the hands of decision makers at the right time. What use is accurate, analyzed data if it goes unused -- as most of today's data does? Including the right stakeholders from across all business functions in the data conversations may unearth current challenges, as well as new opportunities that may have not otherwise been known. This is a step that many companies are now recognizing as crucial for success, which is why we will see more data consumed and put to use over the next three years.
If they haven't already, executives and decision-makers at all levels should start looking at business operations through a data-centric lens. Companies that recognize and act on the fact that their competitive edge and profit growth lies in the insights hidden in their operational data can expect to see immediate ROI on their efforts to mine their data for golden insights. If they're not doing something about this now, they might just be in a race to the bottom.
Ryan Wilkinson has always been intrigued by technology, focusing on how and why solutions work the way they do. He believes understanding the how and why in technology is imperative in building technology solutions to drive positive outcomes. Ryan has over 10 years of experience in the IoT, cloud computing, and enterprise SaaS market leading teams in delivering solutions that transform how businesses use technology and operate. In his current role as CTO of IntelliShift, Ryan’s expertise in applying geospatial technology, machine learning, and IoT solutions has enabled the IntelliShift platform to help companies align enterprise operations with business goals.