Data alchemy

March 17, 2015

Does your data have a value?

 

How do we know if your data has a value?

 

Any software system, running in any business, has to deal with data every minute. Mostly for reasons of operation.

 

On a daily basis, an order is created, automatically or typed by someone but, the data, in most cases, is just used and consumed via day-to-day business purposes and if we are too busy making sure the business has to run and grow every month, we might not even realize we are creating more than just day-to-day data.

 

An order is just one order and then it’s confirmed as completed and later invoiced. Finally, assuming that the customer pays, the whole cycle can be closed and finished. The record is there forever but how can this information be of value, besides the business transaction that originally took place?

 

Today, every smartphone gives pop up alerts or gives a number on top of the icons, telling you when there’s something to see. At least that’s what the application is programmed to do, depending on the initial setup or the default assumptions. Everyone can see if a new text message has arrived. The same goes for unread emails. What happens when you have 50 unread emails, 100, or even 500? Do you still do something about it?

 

I know some managers that know by heart how many bottles their company delivers a day, or a week, a month or, easily, per year. Or how many new coolers are installed each month, or how many coolers are lost. Some others, just trust their middle managers to report to them, when they need it.

 

Data is only data, until someone gives it the right value. The act of transforming data into information can be magic, almost like the ancient alchemists that tried to transform minor metals into gold.

 

Of course, transforming information data requires a lot of effort and requires more than just technical input from the information technology people. To translate the millions of records that are lost within the server, and transform them into business data, requires old fashioned ‘business guts’, modernized in the new world era, where the organized information can become a valuable business in itself.

 

Today, there is enough knowledge and tools to transform data via new business rules, allowing the information to run the customer service and from there, providing what the customer needs, sometimes, even before the customer is aware of it them self.

 

What can be closer to gold than providing customers with the value they are looking for, before they ask?

Data is like a living organ. Every minute there are new customers, new orders, new invoices, new payments, new cancellations, new skips or customers refusing the deliveries, for whatever reason. There are also new competitors daily. The combination of all these processes are captured in your system and just waiting there for something to happen. If the data is not reviewed and stored correctly this information can be lost, maybe forever.

 

As any living organism, data, if not constrained and directed correctly can also lie to you, and worse, can hide from you what is really happening in your business. Even the movements of your users can tell you a lot about them and the way they look at their job and their employer.

 

Everyone knows the concept of ‘garbage in, garbage out’, and everyone jokes about it, but, think seriously, can you perhaps transform your data into gold?

 

 

Published in "Cooler Plus" Magazine, issue 54, December 2014 - January 2015

 

 

 

 

 

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