Not using your Big Data enough? Meet the Steptoe & Son of Big Data

Are you feeling guilty about not using your Big Data enough? You know that you have loads of it and that you should be making the best use of it. But maybe you don’t know how to monetise it by turning it into new services? Or maybe you suspect that there are additional ways to ‘sweat’ your data assets?

The problem is that great services are obvious after someone has thought them up and implemented them. But there are an infinite number of ways to analyse and process your own data and combine it with bought-in data. So choosing which one to use is almost impossible.

Of course, you could look at what your competitors are doing. But its early days for them as well and they may be keeping it rather secret.

Its better to start with unfulfilled needs and then work backwards. You could look to your customers for inspiration. Trace the path of their user experience throughout the whole sales cycle – maybe there is some missing service that you can use your data to produce. Another benefit of this is that it keeps you focused on where your revenues come from.

But what about other uses for the data that you and your supply chain produces just by functioning? Data is not necessarily a consumable resource. It can be used and reused forever. And each time you use it, you generate more data.

If you have the feeling that you could be ‘sweating’ your data assets more but either you can’t think of new services to turn it into (or you do not want to reduce your focus on your core customers) then why not ‘recycle it’.

I call this the Steptoe & Son method – in the US you would say ‘Sanford and Son’ – after the famous TV characters that collected old products that were no longer useful to their owners and then they reconditioned and reused them.

Big Data is like the minute-to-minute personal diary of everyone and everything. There are too many possible uses for a firm to implement and most do not directly support your firm’s business objectives – even if you could think of them all.

But maybe other firms could use some of your data? Maybe firms with an underlying link to your supply chain or to your customers – firms that are your upstream suppliers or downstream customers or firms that also supply to your end users.

If there is such a link between your firm and their firm then there will be a population of B2B or B2C customers that experience your services as well as their services as part of a bundle of services that these customers consume. And as with any service bundle, there are opportunities to provide new add-on services for some customer segments. Add-on services that amplify the value of the whole service bundle rather than any single component service.

One example is the location data that is a bi-product of using a car’s sat nav. Dutch police reportedly used aggregated sat nav data from TomTom to optimise where they placed speed trap cameras. This shows how the data that is generated as a bi-product of one process, car journeys, is very useful to organisations that are also concerned with that same process.

This example also illustrates another issue – the service that the reused data is used to produce for a third party may not be agreeable to the original customers who generated the data. In this example TomTom’s CEO, Harold Goddijn, had to use a YouTube video to publicly state that TomTom would stop this happening in future. Incidentally, the video also contained some other examples of third party use of aggregated sat nav data.

However, if the proper care is taken then there are ways to deal with issues like control, privacy and sharing out the new value that reuse generates. Certainly data sharing and reuse creates more value and financial services clubs have done it for years.

So, if you are interest in working your data assets harder, by ‘recycling’ them, then please get in touch.  

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