Big Data

#ThrowbackThursday: Treat data like money

CMO’s advice: Marketers must develop an “investment strategy” for data

You can’t carry it around in your wallet. But data could be as valuable to your company as cash. Are you treating it that way? Or have you pigeonholed it in its old role – as a tool to cut expenses and improve processes? What if you used it to generate revenue?

dataROIIf you’re going to treat your data like money, the first thing you’ll need is an investment strategy. You can’t just let it pile up under the mattress. Instead, you develop a system for saving. And then you find ways to invest your savings back into the business.

Traditionally we have told customers to ask the age-old questions: Are we using data to support business operations? Is analytic thinking ingrained in our decision making? Has it been woven into our business units?

Today the questions are different. In the big data era, businesses should be asking: How can I use my company’s data to create new products and services? How can I partner with other organizations to share data for a new business initiative? How can I enter a new market or even create a new market using company data?

Consider these examples:

  • In the energy sector, smart meters are an obvious example. Combining usage data, weather forecasts and historical energy peaks, energy providers can offer new services for customers and businesses that want to better monitor and reduce their energy use.
  • In the telecommunications sector, competing mobile service providers are partnering to share data and offer large-scale mobile commerce services to brands that want to increase the intelligence of their loyalty and marketing programs. Millions of consumers are opting in to these programs to receive targeted, context-rich offers based on their locations and their mobile activities.
  • In the health care sector, insurance companies are using prescription data to gain better insight into medical compliance. By analyzing this data, the insurance company can offer reminders and support to customers and physicians to improve health outcomes and reduce the billion-dollar problem of noncompliance.
  • In the financial service sector, credit card providers are using transaction data not just to calculate risk and approve transactions – but to offer merchants valuable information about consumers in their area.
  • In the automotive sector, vehicle manufacturers are capturing data on vehicle use and driving patterns via telematics and making that information available to insurers and consumers for reduced insurance rates.

These businesses stopped thinking of data simply as a byproduct of operational systems that could be used to fine-tune processes and cut expenses. Instead, they recognized data is an asset. When they invested wisely into managing and analyzing that asset, they found ways to add revenue to the business with data.

Remember the adage “It takes money to make money?” These days, we might say “It takes data to make money.”

If you look at your data as money, how might you treat it differently? How can you start investing it back into the business to generate revenue too?