It's time to think outside the box
Painting hunting scenes on cave walls might have been man’s first attempt to capture and record data. We’ve come a long way since then and the pace of data creation and the need to manage data continues to soar beyond that ever imagined. IDC predicts that the Global Datasphere will grow from 33 Zettabytes in 2018 to 175 Zettabytes by 2025. Since almost no one can visualize what 175 Zettabytes looks like, one can argue that that data has already reached immeasurable volumes.
Grappling with the scale and velocity of available data can be daunting—like seeing a mountain range looming in the distance that you know must be climbed. But reaching that summit can generate tremendous returns. When harnessed effectively, the view of the top of Big Data can show us opportunities for growth and simultaneous assessment of potential risks. The view yields insights into marketing streams, supply chain gaps, and customer intent. The right perspective on data can be used to identify trends and predict behavior that enables the strategic vision necessary to build business models for future success.
The metaphor works because Big Data is not a single peak but a series of interlocking slopes with each producing a different perspective on the sources and potential uses of data. Understanding how to rationalize, purify and integrate those perspectives is necessary to support data-driven decisions. Gaining value from all those perspectives isn’t merely about gathering huge quantities of data—even if you can manage it effectively which is not the case for most normal firms. Value comes from thinking strategically about how to juxtapose and cross reference those perspectives. For example, by leveraging everyday financial data with alternative data like foot traffic, on-line inquiries, shipping and delivery data, businesses can derive valuable insights that can generate a competitive edge in an increasingly digital economy.
Eternal vigilance is the price…
It is reported that Thomas Jefferson said “Let the eyes of vigilance never be closed.” The idea is a powerful one and it applies to business as well as politics. Businesses today cannot relax no matter how far up the mountain they have climbed. We’re living in a fail-fast world; agility and adaptability are required just to stay in place during the current market disruption. That means developing, testing and incorporating feedback on mountains of data at an unprecedented speed. Staying abreast of the data reflecting rapid fluctuations in client demand and the morphing of competitive risks is key to survival on this climb.
One of the problems of staying abreast, of course, is that these mountains are constantly in motion. Essential data gathered in the morning may be outdated and useless before sundown. Time sensitive data can be valuable and more and more of it is generated every day, including social media sentiment, geo-spatial imagery, commercial property availability, shipping data and the internet of things (IoT) data, such as air conditioner usage. Such esoteric data in and of itself has limited value in isolation but when viewed holistically it can provide dramatic explanatory power. For example, air conditioning use may seem irrelevant until one juxtaposes the use of air conditioners in factories in Wuhan, China with the projected shipping data from those factories. The more types of data that are brought to the table, the more connections can be made between data points – providing context to analyze trends, note inconsistencies (e.g. factories purportedly shipping goods when the air conditioners in those factories haven’t been used in weeks), identify new predictive variables, and prepare for change before it happens.
Bringing alternative data to bear involves a complex set of problematic tasks. Even by the standards of traditional business data – which is often siloed into indecipherability–alternative data tends to be harder to extract, harder to organize into a useable format, and harder to put into a recognizable context. Organizations need to harvest this information from across their data universe and bring it together into an environment created to accomplish these tasks. They need the right tools to make the process possible – and this is why we developed Dun & Bradstreet’s Analytics Studio.
When all you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail…
That was one of my father’s favorite phrases when he was coaching me on my latest mishap. Finding the right tool for the job might require a few extra steps and a little thinking but it was much more likely to produce the right result—which after all is what really counts. In managing mountains of moving, morphing data, the right tools are essential. Let us help. The D&B Analytics Studio utilizes advanced analytics and visualization capabilities, and the 360 million records in Dun & Bradstreet’s Data Cloud can be used in combination with clients’ proprietary data sets to generate uniquely tailored solutions. This ‘sandbox’ platform enables businesses to load their data into a secure environment and matches it to a unique Dun & Bradstreet D‑U‑N‑S Number. This puts our customers’ data into the broader perspectives allowed by the context of the entire Dun & Bradstreet data cloud, expanding the degrees of freedom in every statistical calculation and thus enabling a level of market analysis that would have otherwise been impossible.
Clients come to Dun & Bradstreet with all kinds of data issues, and often for the first time they’re able to make connections between their business and the wider market. They can get a much broader perspective on their own data – giving them a real advantage over their competitors. The D&B Analytics Studio creates an environment where client models can be developed and tested with multiple scenarios managed simultaneously. Client models can fail fast, be modified within the environment, and retested in near real time. Businesses can execute on validated models to strike the right balance between risk and reward. Clients who have never experienced the perspectives of alternative data get a chance to experiment with variables they didn’t know existed.
Enjoy the View…
The Dun & Bradstreet Analytic Studio offers exciting opportunities for firms who want to climb far, climb fast, and climb safely.