The inability to effectively collect and process all data types can spell serious trouble—including lost business opportunities and decreased efficiency—for companies of all sizes. When an organization is unable or unwilling to make data-driven decisions, it’s missing out on actionable insights that often arise when new information is presented.
Take the petroleum industry, where a geographically dispersed infrastructure generates a wide range of information—everything from video and text files to sensor data on field operations. The ability to continuously and inexpensively stream sensor feeds from pumps, wells, and other field sources helps guide skilled workers in repairing or replacing machines prior to failure. And by adding machine data to multiple information streams—including weather updates, seismic activity, and even social media sentiment—an energy provider can paint a more complete picture of what’s happening in the field.
Progressive Insurance, one of the largest U.S. auto insurance companies, is transforming its business by augmenting traditional data with new kinds of digital information, enabling the company to create novel, innovative business lines that differentiate the provider in a crowded, competitive market.
One example is Snapshot, Progressive’s safe-driver program, which uses in-car devices to capture data on driving habits. By storing this sensor data—an impractical feat with conventional data management systems—the insurer can correlate usage-based data with conventional driving-record, demographic, and risk data to yield more accurate risk calculations for each customer. The benefit: better rates for superior drivers and a sharper gauge of risk for the insurer.
It’s not uncommon for business leaders to dismiss new ideas that, at first glance, may seem either too expensive or impractical to carry out. Unfortunately, this approach often hinders organizations from making data-driven decisions. Instead, managers may rely on intuition or their “gut feeling.” As the Harvard Business Review points out, relying solely on intuition is a recipe for disaster in today’s fast-paced business environment. The time window for managerial decision-making continues to shrink, while data sources available for analysis are multiplying exponentially. Bottom line? While old-school intuition has its merits, big data delivers insights that gut instinct can’t match.
Pinsight Media is a prime example of a business that could not exist without modern tools to ingest and analyze terabytes of data at any given time. A leading mobile data and brand intelligence company founded in 2012, Pinsight Media works closely with marketers to provide actionable insights on targeted consumers. By using big data analytics to reveal users’ brand affinities and habits, Pinsight Media has quickly become a data-driven industry leader that delivers accurate, timely views of consumers and their day-to-day behaviors.
Unsurprisingly, data is the lifeblood of Pinsight Media’s business. The company pulls in a staggering 60 terabytes of data daily from more than 30 unique sources across 65 million mobile devices. This vast trove of information provides deeper insights into the daily travel patterns and activities of millions of mobile users.
Emerging technologies are inextricably linked with big data collection and analysis. Testing and development of autonomous vehicles, for instance, is possible because automakers have sophisticated tools to ingest, store, and analyze multiple petabytes of self-driving-vehicle data. Much of this data, such as video from onboard cameras, is unstructured, meaning it can’t be saved in a relational, column-and-row database built for structured information.
Data is transforming education, too. A recent New York Times article says that Georgia State University is one of a growing number of learning institutions that uses predictive analytics to spot students at risk of dropping out of school. By analyzing vast numbers—sometimes in the millions—of student academic and personal records, colleges and universities increasingly are crunching data to develop solutions that help students get the most from their education.
Big data analysis isn’t a futuristic concept. Powerful tools, available today, can collect, curate, and analyze real-time and archival information to deliver insights that often defy conventional wisdom and contradict gut instinct. For business leaders, the question is often whether to embrace data-driven solutions or run the risk of overlooking key trends and developments that are disrupting their industry.
At the 2017 Gartner Data and Analytics Conference in Grapevine, Texas, one of the key takeaways was that organizations often underutilize data at their disposal—in part because they lack the tools to do so, but also because they lack the will. And according to the Economist, data has replaced oil as the world’s most valuable resource, a revolution that’s only growing stronger by the minute. “By collecting more data, a firm has more scope to improve its products, which attracts more users, generating even more data, and so on,” notes the Economist.
What steps are you taking to embrace the data revolution? Learn more about the value of processing information streams by reading this report.