Big data’s burning platform

by Rob Lovegrove, Head of Digital

Published on
October 9, 2017

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Three industrial revolutions have transformed the face of humankind and how we engage with the world around us. They are respectively epitomised by steam and water power, electricity and assembly lines, and computerisation.

Today we stand on the precipice of the Fourth Industrial Revolution that places the Internet of Things (IoT) and intelligent robots at the heart of our daily lives.1

While the big-ticket items, the shiny exemplars of a utopian future, such as autonomous vehicles, genetic modifications, 3D printing and so on will steal headlines, the currency of these emerging technologies lies in data, and today’s data is a highly tangible commodity for businesses of any size and in any industry.

The trouble for most businesses is that data, or more precisely ‘big data’, is a topic of great debate and conjecture. But there’s little acknowledgement on how it truly manifests in decision-making and product or service development.

This is especially true for Australian businesses, with a 2017 report from one of the country’s leading emerging technology analysts Telsyte confirming:

“Thirty percent of Australian enterprises are using, or planning to use, big data for predictive analytics.

Sales and marketing applications are one of the top three lines of business use cases flagged by CIOs (Chief Information Officers) — one third of whom say they are looking to use big data analytics for this application — however uptake is lagging with just 15% of marketing departments having implemented big data analytics.”2

Without wishing to oversimplify generations of business theory, we look at big data from the perspective of communicators who believe sustainable business success is grounded in the ability to demonstrate a product or service’s worth.

But what is ‘worth’? If you consider the triple bottom line, worth is measured socially, environmentally and economically.

All too often, big data for business is viewed through the third lens. It is represented as sales or marketing trends, based on volumes and dollars that drive the opportunity to ‘sell more’.

But when considered from a communication, behavioural or psychographic perspective, big data can placate all three aspects of a business strategy — a strategy that shouldn’t be confused with a short-term product or service sales and marketing plan.

Business strategies look to predict future environments — our audiences, our resources, our margins and company growth.

At Rowland, big data is a burning platform.

We use data to drive insights into audience behaviour. That is, both rational and irrational behaviour that not only drives sales but generates long-term brand loyalty — arguably providing more worth to a business beyond a single sale.

How that loyalty is rewarded will invariably also play out in the new arena of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Providing products and services in an ‘always-on’ environment through bots, tools and channels that talk to the Internet of Things will make customers’ lives easier and provide solutions that suit individual behaviours and demands.

While your business may not be contemplating a workforce of robots or automated machines in the next 12 months, currently you’ll have a wealth of data in your business that will one day be disrupted by the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The challenge is to understand what that data is telling you so you can be the ones to manage your own disruption.

1 The Fourth Industrial Revolution, Professor Klaus Schwab, World Economic Forum
2 Telsyte Australian Big Data & Analytics Market Study 2017