Take advantage of the computer economy

Hidden in these vast amounts of data are insights into consumer behavior, new market trends, even predictors of the future. For organizations, the goal is to make sense of this rapidly increasing amount of data and find innovative ways to get sustainable value out of it, all while effectively managing the consumption of the cloud services that support data management and analytics.

However, according to a survey of 255 business leaders and decision makers conducted by MIT Technology Review Insights, 45% of respondents say they only use data for basic insight and decision making. It’s a missed opportunity.

“There is an absolute explosion of data sources both inside and outside the company,” said Channa Seneviratne, Director of Technology Development and Solutions at Telstra, an Australian telecommunications company. “As a telecommunications company, our customer base and the data it generates are a fantastic asset that we are unlikely to exploit as efficiently as we could.”

But that is changing as Telstra takes advantage of today’s computer economy. The data economy is the global digital ecosystem in which producers and consumers of data – businesses and individuals – and state and local authorities collect, organize and share accumulated data from a wide variety of sources. By connecting unrelated data across industry boundaries, organizations can gain richer business insights, leverage unexplored markets, serve both citizens and consumers with data-driven products and services, and monetize their data by sharing it externally with key customers and suppliers.

The benefits of participation

So how can organizations participate in the computer economy? One way is by eliminating data silos that can prevent companies from gaining compelling insights. Fortunately, more than a third (35%) of respondents collaborate with partners to exchange data. This sharing of data assets helps organizations unlock value and achieve significant business results.

For example, 66% of those who share data assets experience improved collaboration with partners and suppliers. It’s easy to understand why. Data exchanges and marketplaces provide multiple stakeholders with a secure and reliable platform for collecting and sharing information in real time.

More than half (53%) of business leaders say that participation in the computer economy has led them to create new business models. For example, by using Internet-of-things-enabled monitoring devices, Telstra delivers applications that convert waste, water, air, soil and noise data into usable insights. By combining this data with microclimate data collected from weather stations, the company plans to provide Australia’s agricultural industry with information that can be used for a range of activities, ranging from predicting crop health to determining pesticide use. “We collect isolated data pockets to create more value, insights and applications,” says Seneviratne. “We are now in a better position to monetize this data and add value.”

Telstra is not alone. According to Kent Graziano, chief technology evangelist at Snowflake, a data cloud provider based in Bozeman, Montana, “As the amount of data grows, many organizations realize that the data they have may actually be useful to other organizations, either within their own industry or in adjacent industries. ”

Graziano provides the example of a manufacturer of medical devices. Medical devices can track and collect critical information about a patient’s blood pressure, heart rate, and insulin levels. However, most manufacturers play a minimal role in influencing and shaping patient outcomes.

By collaborating with healthcare organizations and securely integrating tracking data with other patient and third-party data, a medical device manufacturer can establish a new business model as a healthcare information provider with a direct impact on patient well-being.

“Many organizations collect data and analyze data, but it has never been technically possible and economically efficient for them to try to monetize that data,” says Graziano. By sharing data with key stakeholders via cloud-based platforms, such as a data exchange or marketplace, companies can “develop a new revenue stream.”

Another benefit of the data economy is faster innovation, according to 52% of respondents. Traditional companies face unprecedented pressure from their digitally original counterparts to innovate and respond quickly to changing customer preferences and market trends. By leveraging data from a wide range of external sources, organizations can discover innovative approaches to designing products, providing services – and even solving world problems.

For example, credit card companies could partner with healthcare organizations, mobile phone providers and e-commerce providers to use their integrated data to track covid-19 patients and provide them with care in ways that would not have been possible as stand-alone devices with siled datasets.

“How does a 200-year-old company innovate in a digital economy?” asks Sunil Senan, senior vice president and business manager for data and analytics at Infosys, a digital service and consulting firm based in Bengaluru, India. “We feel data is a big part of continuing to serve customers and find new ways to stay relevant in a world of disruption.”

In addition to creating new business models and promoting innovation, more than half (51%) of respondents in the survey say that participating in a data economy can improve the speed of customer acquisition and retention – gain new customers and retain existing ones – while 42% of respondents cite increased revenue as an important business advantage.

Download the full report.

This content was produced by Insights, the custom content arm of the MIT Technology Review. It is not written by the editorial staff of MIT Technology Reviews.

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